WBAMC doctors perform Army's first total ear reconstruction surgery

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - The Army's first total ear reconstruction surgery was performed right here in El Paso.

Pvt. Shamika Burrage, a supply clerk with 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, was just 19 years old when a rollover crash resulted in the total loss of her left ear in 2016.

"We were driving and my front tire blew, which sent the car off road and I hit the brake," she said. "I just remember the first flip and that was it."

The Mississippi native also suffered head injuries, spinal fractures, and road rash in the single-vehicle accident.

After more than a year of preparation, plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center were finally able to begin the three-part process to restore Burrage's ear. 

"I didn't feel comfortable with the way I looked so the provider referred me to plastic surgery," the now-21-year-old said. 

Surgeons carved the new ear out of cartilage from Burrage's ribs before placing it under the skin of her forearm to allow it to grow and form new blood vessels.

"(The ear) will have fresh arteries, fresh veins, and even a fresh nerves, so she'll be able to feel it," Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, WBAMC, said. 

Although surgeons will need to perform two additional surgeries before the reconstruction is complete, Burrage says she's already feeling more confident.

"It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back," she said.

For more, read the U.S. Army's original article HERE.

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