Army grows ear on soldier's arm for transplant

Physicians at William Beaumont Army Medical Center reportedly did a total ear reconstruction surgery on a soldier who lost the use of her own after a car accident

In a first-of-its-kind medical breakthrough for the Army, plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center successfully transplanted a new ear on a soldier who had lost hers in a vehicle accident.

She was presented with a daring plan from Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Texas' William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Private Shamika Burrage, 21, from MS, lost her ear in 2016 when a tire blew out in a auto she was traveling in, causing the vehicle to veer off the road and flip several times. The cartilage was inserted beneath the skin on her arm so that it could grow new blood vessels, according to a U.S. Army article, Fox News reported.

In a rare and remarkable procedure, Army surgeons at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, have recreated an ear for Burrage out of cartilage, and tucked it into her arm to finish growing. A statement from the Army explained that if she had received medical assistance even half an hour later than she did, she would have bled to death.

Burrage said the auto skidded for 700 feet before it flipped several times again and eventually ejected her from the vehicle altogether.

"I didn't want to do (the reconstruction) but gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it could be a good thing".

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This means Burrage will also have feeling in her new ear once rehabilitation is complete, the Army's statement said.

Although this was the first time this kind of ear reconstruction was attempted by an Army surgeon, the idea of growing ears is not new to science or medicine. Burrage. "Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were okay and then I blacked out", Burrage said he next memory was waking up in a hospital. The transplant was recently successful and now Burrage has just two surgeries left.

Burrage still has to undergo two additional surgeries, but she's already rejoicing the unprecedented progress.

Today, Burrage is on her path to recovery with a fully functioning ear. Shamika is now able to hear again in her new ear.

And Johnson said it just made sense to try it, since Burrage is so young and shouldn't have to deal with an artificial ear for the rest of her life.

"I looked back at the road as I hit the brakes", she said.

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