"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", said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, WBAMC, according to a post on the US Army blog. According to an ABC News report, the surgery should ideally allow for the formation of new blood vessels in the cartilage, which means all sensations and feelings will return to the ear upon complete rehabilitation. In 2012, doctors grew an ear under a woman's forearm skin to replace the one she had lost due to cancer, reported ABC News.
Burrage was driving from MS to Fort Bliss, Texas, two years ago when her front tire blew out. Her cousin, who was eight months pregnant at the time, only suffered minor injuries.
After months of rehabilitation, Burrage made a decision to get plastic surgery for her ear.
Private Shamika Burrage, 21, from MS, lost her ear in 2016 when a tire blew out in the auto she was traveling in, causing the vehicle to veer off the road and flip several times.
"I was on the ground, I just looked up and [her cousin] was right there".
The cutting-edge surgery won't only improve the appearance of Burrage's ear, it will also allow her to hear because Johnson was able to open the ear canal back up.
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After the accident, Burrage said she didn't feel comfortable with how she looked and was presented with plastic surgery as an option. Burrage, who was in the auto with her cousin, doesn't remember much about the incident. "Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were okay and then I blacked out". However, the resounding success of Burrage's surgery means that U.S. army surgeons can now restore and recreate cartilaginous body parts for soldiers in service.
Doctors later told her that if medical treatment had been delayed for 30 more minutes, she would have bled to death. While she was initially scared about going through with the reconstruction, she said she wanted to see what doctors could do. Now known as the Vacanti Mouse, the critter was part of research studying how feasible it was to grow human ears made of cartilage.
The ear being grown will replace the ear that Army private Shamika Burrage lost two years ago in a almost fatal vehicle accident.
At first, Burrage was hesitant when she learned what that would entail. After it was grown, they removed it from her forearm and attached it.
After a series of surgeries, with two more to go, Burrage's hearing has been restored and the procedure has been deemed a success.
Dr. Johnson says, "I elevated a pocket of skin, preserving all of the things that were important, and placed the rib cartilage into the skin to let it heal".