Chinese doctors replace ear lost in accident with new one grown on patient’s arm

Car crash victim undergoes four months of preparation and three operations led by top plastic surgeon

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 2:56pm

A plastic surgeon in mainland China has replaced a man’s ear lost in a car accident with a new one grown on the patient’s arm, state media reported.

The surgery was conducted successfully at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xian Jiaotong University in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province , on Thursday.

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The patient, surnamed Ji, lost his right ear in a car accident more than a year ago and is expected to be discharged from the hospital in about two weeks when his new ear can work normally, according to state-media Xinhua.

Ji underwent a seven-hour operation led by hospital’s leading plastic surgeon Guo Shuzhong, who regenerates ears for about 500 Chinese children every year.

Guo said Ji’s surgery was complicated by the severity of Ji’s facial injuries from the accident, which made it difficult to find suitable blood vessels to reconnect to the new ear and make it function normally.

“The whole operation had to be done using 10x magnifying surgical glasses and sutures thinner than human hair,” Guo said.

The complete reattachment programme required four months of preparation including three operations.

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In the first stage, a skin expander produced with 3D printing technology was implanted in Ji’s right forearm. Water had to be injected into the expander every day to produce a lump on the arm to begin shaping the new ear.

In the second stage, doctors extracted cartilage from one of Ji’s ribs, which was shaped and implanted under the expanded skin on Ji’s arm, allowing the new ear to grow.

Guo said Ji did not lose his hearing after the accident, but having a new ear could heal his post-traumatic stress after the accident and rebuild his confidence.