Army Doctors Transplant New Ear From Soldier's Arm


Thankfully, Burrage's cousin, who was eight months pregnant, escaped serious injury, but Burrage almost died in the wreck, suffering head injuries, compression fractures in her spine, a nasty case of road rash and the loss of her entire left ear. The "ear" was then placed under the skin in the 21-year-old's forearm so it could grow into a fully formed ear. While her cousin managed to escape with only minor wounds, Burrage suffered head injuries as well as compression fractures in the spine.

The injury was so severe, it required total ear reconstruction.

This accident was nearly fatal for Burrage; doctors said if the paramedics would have come thirty minutes later than they did, she would not have made it. In 2012, a woman lost her ear to cancer and grew a replacement under her forearm skin, ABC News reported.

"I was coming back from leave and we were around Odessa, Texas", said Burrage, who was traveling with her cousin.

Doctors at the hospital told her she was 30 minutes away from dying as a result of losing too much blood.

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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.

"I was on the ground, I just looked up and (her cousin) was right there", Burrage said. After it was grown, they removed it from her forearm and attached it.

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 didn't lose any hearing and (Johnson) opened the canal back up", said Burrage, whose left ear canal had closed up due to the severity of the trauma.

"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", Burrage said.

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Burrage's new ear has fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve, so she will actually be able to feel it, once her rehabilitation is complete.

As an added bonus to the reconstruction, the extra skin stretched on her arm will cover the scar tissue by Burrage's jaw. She is reportedly slated to undergo two more surgeries.

Not totally comfortable with how she looked, she was presented with plastic surgery, "I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear", she said.

As for Burrage, she has two more surgeries left and says she is feeling optimistic about her future. "I just remember the first flip and that was it", Pvt.

Burrage said that she had resigned herself to living with a prosthetic ear, but did not like how it looked.

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