An Indian-origin doctor in the US has successfully grown outer ears from rib cartilage in an 8-year-old boy after a series of ‘miraculous’ surgeries.
Elijah Bell, a second-grade student at Frazer Elementary in Canton, Ohio, was born with bilateral atresia microtia, a rare birth defect where the outer ears are undeveloped, and, in Elijah’s case, had no openings to the middle and inner ear.
On July 28, Elijah completed a final round of surgeries at Akron Children’s Hospital to craft a set of outer ears.
Dr Ananth Murthy, director of plastic surgery at the hospital, made ears from Elijah’s rib cartilage.
“We consider it to be a miracle in our family,” said Colleen Bell, Elijah’s mom.
“The changes we’ve seen in Elijah are really remarkable,” Bell said, adding that her son has a new outlook on life.
Elijah’s middle and inner ear developed normally, giving him the ability to hear. But the lack of an opening meant that sounds had trouble getting through. Elijah had to wear a bone-anchored hearing aid.
The procedure to grow outer ears required five surgeries, starting when Elijah was 4 years old. Along with harvesting cartilage to create the ears, Murthy had to use a skin graft from Elijah’s thigh to create a gap between his ears and his head.
During the final surgery in July, Murthy gave Elijah’s ears detailed “hills and valleys”, CantonRep.com reported.
“The body naturally wants to smooth everything out as it heals, so we always have to go back a couple of times to help create the natural curves of an ear,” said Murthy.
“It is an artistic procedure,” he said.
“He loves his ears. He’s very, very, very proud of them,” said Bell.