Here's an Ear Growing on an Arm, Thanks to the US Army

It gave a wounded soldier a second chance.

When US Army Private Shamika Burrage got into a car crash in 2016, she probably didn’t expect to be on the cutting edge of medical science. Heck, probably didn’t expect to survive the crash. Her tire blew out as she was returning to base from visiting her family, and in the resulting wreck, her car flipped and skidded 700 feet, ejecting her from the car. Burrage ended up losing only her ear, but she didn’t have to do without it for long.

In May, United States Army surgeons announced that they’d grown her a new ear in her own body.

As Inverse reported previously, a team of doctors led by Lieutenant Colonel Owen Johnson III, the chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, grew Burrage a new ear from her own cartilage, a historic first for US Army doctors. By removing cartilage from her ribs, sculpting it into an ear shape, and implanting it under the skin on her arm, doctors grew a replacement ear. And since it’s made of cells from her body, she won’t have to take the anti-rejection drugs that typical transplant recipients have to take for the rest of their lives.

This is #17 on Inverse’s list of the 25 Most WTF stories of 2018.

ear arm
US Army plastic surgeons grew a soldier a new ear from her own tissue.

As part of the procedure, Burrage’s nascent ear was transplanted into her arm so it could develop blood vessels, which will allow her to regain feeling over time. Johnson called the procedure a success.

“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,” he said. “As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get.”

He and his team used skin from Burrage’s arm to help mask the borders of the transplant, so hopefully the accident will soon be a distant memory for the young soldier.

As 2018 draws to a close, Inverse is counting down the 25 stories that made us go WTF. Some are gross, some are amazing, and some are just, well, WTF. In our ranking from least to most WTF, this has been #17. Read the original article here.

Watch the full 25 WTF countdown in the video below.

Media via US Army