US woman grows new ear on arm
Alys Francis, ninemsn
Sherrie Walter grew a new ear on her arm.
Sherrie Walter grew a new ear on her arm.

US doctors have grown a new ear for a woman on her arm after she lost her original ear during a battle with skin cancer.

Sherrie Walter had to have most of her left ear removed, along with parts of her skull and ear canal, in 2010 after she was diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The 42-year-old mother-of-two, from California, was left disfigured until doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland told her about a groundbreaking new procedure that would enable her to grow a new ear.

The ear was made using cartilage from Ms Walter’s ribs and arteries and from other parts of her body — the structure was then placed under the skin on her arm for four months to grow before it was transferred to her head.

Doctors said the entire process took close to 20 months and it is believed to be the most complicated ear reconstruction completed in North America.

Surgeons performed Ms Walter’s final major surgery last week, fashioning an earlobe and shaping the ear to look more natural.

Speaking before the operation, Ms Walter said: “I am one step closer to the end, to looking normal again.”

Ms Walter first noticed her skin cancer in 2008 when a scab on her ear would not heal.

After drastic surgery to remove the cancer and weeks of radiation, Ms Walter said she became self-conscious of her appearance and grew her hair long to try and hide her face.

She could not wear a clip-on prosthetic ear because parts of her skull had also been removed.

But Dr Patrick Byrne, who led Ms Walter’s surgical team, assured her there were other options and suggested she try the procedure to grow a new ear.

“It seemed a little strange but I was willing to try it,” she said.

Dr Byrne said the new ear should last for years to come.

US scientists are helping pioneer efforts to grow ears, bones and skin in laboratories, with doctors planning to use cutting-edge reconstructive techniques for wounded troops.

Sources: The Baltimore Sun
Author: Alys Francis. Approving editor: Emily O’Keefe

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