A sexagenarian Australian artist has sparked controversy by getting an extra ear, made of human cartilage, engrafted onto his forearm in the name of arts.
Cyprus-born Stelios Arcadiou, who is also known as Stelarc, has revealed that the engrafted ear is an augmentation of the body's form.
Stelarc has revealed that he spent years finding a surgeon to perform the operation on him. Although the ear does not function, Stelarc hopes to have a microphone implanted to allow others to listen to what the organ picks up.
He presented his work to a UK audience at Newcastle's Centre for Life. Reality TV star and model Sasha Gardner, who was born with one ear missing and recently had plastic surgery done to rebuild the ear, has also criticised the artist for getting the engrafting done, terming it offensive.
"He views this as art but I personally find it offensive. It is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. This is not something people should be using as an expression of art. It shows a lack of understanding," the BBC quoted her as saying.
Francis Wells, a surgeon at Papworth Hospital, wonders whether such an operations should have been performed without any clinical need. "This will provoke a reaction. I would not condemn him for it, but it could cause some people distress. There are a lot of people who have lost an ear in an accident who cannot easily have that ear replaced. This type of reconstruction is expensive," he said.
However, David Gault, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, is of the opinion that surgery is normally performed for obvious clinical or psychological benefit.
"Patients have had ears moved onto the forearm and then grafted on to the head before, so this is not something that is technically new. It is also possible that the publicity will do some good - if it prompts patients who are missing an ear to seek help that they had not realised was available," he said.