WASHINGTON (WFLA) – Thanks to breakthrough advances in medicine, Army surgeons have grown a human ear on the arm of a soldier.
In 2016, Private Shamika Burrage was injured in a car accident when a tire blew and her car veered off the road and flipped multiple times. Burrage was thrown from the car and suffered serious injuries including head injuries, spinal fractures, road rash and the loss of her left ear, NBC News reports. The injury was so severe, it required total ear reconstruction.
In a rare and revolutionary procedure–the first of its kind in the Army–doctors recreated an ear for Burrage using cartilage from her ribs. The ear was then placed under the skin of her forearm to finish growing.
“The whole goal is, by the time she’s done with all this, it looks good, it’s sensate and in five years, if somebody doesn’t know her, they won’t notice,” chief plastic surgeon Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III said in a statement.
Burrage, now 21, has hearing in her left ear. NBC reports she has two surgeries remaining and is feeling optimistic.
“It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back,” she said.