Nathan Parkash from Seychelles, who was born without an ear was given a new one by reconstruction surgery at a private hospital in Chennai.
The child who was slowly slipping into depression owing to his appearance was brought to a city hospital recently, where surgeons constructed an entire ear for him.
"It is a complicated surgery that was done in multiple stages. Instead of using artificial materials, we reconstructed the child's ear using a graft from his own rib cage. While his left ear was normal, Nathan was born with a condition called microtia where his right ear was malformed. The child could hear well but he could not wear goggles or listen to music using earphones. The biggest blow was the curious stares he elicited from people, especially his classmates," said Dr S M Balaji of Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospitals.
The mother and son duo arrived in the city three months ago, and an initial workup showed promise. Within a few days, the doctors performed the first phase of the surgery where they took a small piece of cartilage from his rib and carved it to look like an ear. An incision was made and this was then implanted into his skin and sutured up.
After three months, the surgical team did the second phase of the procedure where they elevated the ear and enhanced its appearance. "We had to let three months pass for the cartilage to develop blood flow and for it to settle neatly. We then took a piece of skin from his groin and covered the cartilage to give it a more normal look," said Dr Balaji.
The doctor added that the surgery is normally done only after 14 years of age. "But we went ahead with Nathan and made his left ear slightly bigger than the other one as it would look similar within a few years when his right ear grows normally," he said.
The child, who is now able to sport goggles and plug earphones and listen to music said, "I am very excited with my new look. I cannot wait to get back to school and show my friends."