12 Year Old Girl Grows a New Ear in Her Arm After Losing it to a Raccoon

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By Sarah Thomas | July 24, 2014 3:40 PM EST

12 years old West Michigan girl, Charlotte Ponce had lost her ear and other parts of her face when she was a baby. Her birth parents' pet raccoon bit her right ear off, her nose and parts of her mouth when she was just three months old.

Reuters
A staff member from Ocean Park hold her ears during a Laughter Yoga class in Hong Kong July 10, 2014. Consultancy firm �Inspire 2 Aspire� run Laughter Yoga classes for corporations which partner Mahesh Pamnani believes ease stress and increases productivity and creativity among staff. Laughter Yoga was first developed 1995 in Mumbai, India by Dr. Madan Kataria, and has over 600 clubs in 60 countries, according to Laughter Yoga International. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH BUSINESS)

The incident left her fighting for survival in the hospital for months; the girl's life was changed forever. But a plastic surgeon at Beaumont Children's Hospital, Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate whom Charlotte's adopted mother Sharon says has been a godsend, conducted a surgery to transplant the ear that has been growing under her skin on her right arm to her right ear.

The surgery sounded impossible to her adopted parents Timothy Ponce and Sharon. Her birth parents rights to both their children Charlotte and her brother was terminated by the state. At the time of adoption her adopted parents were advised to treat her as any other normal kid but they admitted that though they tried it was hard to ignore the looks that people gave the young girl.

"There are times I get tears in my eyes knowing what she's gone through," said Timothy. Sharon described the kind of life Charlotte had led, "We were at the amusement park and there was one of the little kiddie rides. They suddenly stopped it because a little boy got scared of her."

Timothy and Sharon have got several reconstructive surgeries done to get back her face. Dr Chaiyasate reconstructed her cheek and nose using cartilage and skin from other parts of her body, her ear was the most difficult part to fix. "She has no frame, no skin and the tissue around the ear is totally damaged from the injury down to the bone," said Dr Chaiyasate.

To overcome the problem the doctors decided to grow a new ear in her arm. Her own rib cartilage was shaped into an ear and for it to grow around the frame of her ears that he stitched it into her arm. Three months post the creation of her ear, Charlotte underwent the most important surgery of her life for eight hours and it was successful. The ear was attached from her arm to her head and a tube was inserted in her new ear forming the ear canal. This completely restored her hearing.

"I'm a normal kid," Charlotte said. To a world that looks at the superficial appearance of people and judges them according to it, Charlotte spoke words of wisdom, You don't always have to be perfect. Just rock what you got."

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A staff member from Ocean Park hold her ears during a Laughter Yoga class in Hong Kong July 10, 2014. Consultancy firm �Inspire 2 Aspire� run Laughter Yoga classes for corporations which partner Mahesh Pamnani believes ease stress and increases productivity and creativity among staff. Laughter Yoga was first developed 1995 in Mumbai, India by Dr. Madan Kataria, and has over 600 clubs in 60 countries, according to Laughter Yoga International. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH BUSINESS)
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