A U.S. Army soldier who lost her ear in a near-fatal auto accident now has a new one that she grew herself. Shamika Burrage's ribcage and then inserting it beneath the skin on her arm, allowing the ear to grow and develop new blood vessels. That's when doctors gave her a shocking proposal: to grow a new ear in her forearm and then transplant it.
(The ear) will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it.
Burrage still has two surgeries to go, but she said she's feeling optimistic.
"As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get", Johnson said.
Burrage was returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, after visiting family in MS when a tire blowout led to the accident that changed her life. The auto skidded 700 feet and flipped several times, according to the Army press release. While it was the first time that an Army surgeon has attempted this kind of ear reconstruction, similar procedures have been performed before. The transplant was recently successful and now Burrage has just two surgeries left.
Burrage herself said she was hesitant at first but ultimately decided on the reconstruction.
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.
Now, a novel procedure at the Army medical center in Texas has given Burrage back her ear by growing another one on her arm.
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Though her cousin only suffered minor injuries, Burrage wasn't so lucky.
Shamika Burrage survived a near-fatal vehicle accident two years ago, but not without losing something pretty important: her left ear.
"It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back", Burrage said.
"I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear", Burrage said.
Despite her initial hesitance and the multiple surgeries she'll eventually have to endure, Burrage said she's happy with her decision.
Burrage said she had been in rehabilitation for several months, following which she began to seek counseling due to emotional stress caused by the accident.
Burrage is just 21, and was promoted last month during a ceremony at Fort Bliss where she serves as a supply clerk (pictured).