Yep, this happened. Doctors at Johns Hopkins have attached a new ear to a patient that was grown on her own forearm. It’s a medical first, and a heartwarming-if-a-little-yucky story.
In 2008, Sherrie Walters was diagnosed with aggressive basal cell cancer, and had to have part of her ear, skull, and ear canal removed. But now she’s the first patient to receive a new procedure that uses rib cartilage to build an entirely new ear, spearheaded by Dr. Patrick Byrne, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The new ear was then placed under the skin of her arm for months to grow.
And it seems to have been a success! Byrne, who had been waiting for the right patient to try this procedure on, told CBS, “In my opinion, how it’s just a matter of time as the swelling goes down and it heals, I believe she will have a normal looking ear.” Which is incredible, really. Reconstructive surgery like this is one, among others, of the best and most human uses of all the scientific might we have at our disposal.