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This Ear Transplant Was Made From Rib Cartilage And Grown In The Patient's Arm. You Know, Normal Stuff.

US Army

A 21-year-old army army private lost her left ear in a car accident, and doctors have managed to regrow one in a really unique way.


In 2016, Shamika Burrage was returning from a family visit when one of her front tires blew out. After her car skidded for 700 feet, it then flipped multiple times, ejecting her from the vehicle. Burrage lost her left ear in the accident, as well as having sustained road rash, head injuries, and spinal fractures.

"We were driving and my front tire blew, which sent the car off road and I hit the brake...I remember looking at my cousin who was in the passenger seat, I looked back at the road as I hit the brakes. I just remember the first flip and that was it."

"I was on the ground, I just looked up and (her cousin) was right there. Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were OK and then I blacked out."

But thanks to a team of innovative and skilled doctors at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Burrage now has her left ear back. Plastic surgeons were able to regrow her ear by harvesting cartilage from Burrage's rib cage. The tissue was then transplanted into her arm, where it was able to grow and form blood vessels and nerves.

"(The ear) will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it," chief plastic surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Owen Johnson III explained on the US Army's website. Two more surgeries are required, however Burrage is optimistic about her chances at a substantial recovery. Initially, though, the details of the procedure terrified her.

"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. I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear. I was just scared at first but wanted to see what he could do."

The prospect of sporting an artificial ear didn't sit well with Burrage, so Johnson insisted on doing the surgery, and eventually convinced Burrage to go through with it. Johnson believed Burrage was healthy enough to handle the surgery and too young to spend the rest of her life with an artificial ear.

"The whole goal is by the time she's done with all this, it looks good, it (has feeling), and in five years if somebody doesn't know her they won't notice. As a young active-duty soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get."

It's pretty amazing what medical science can achieve.