Kongkrit Chaiyasate, M.D., pediatric plastic surgeon, Beaumont Children’s Hospital, has completed the first of a series of surgeries to create a new ear for 11-year-old Charlotte Ponce of Spring Lake, Mich.
When she was just three-months-old, a pet raccoon attacked Charlotte in her crib. The raccoon destroyed her nose, ear and cheek. Charlotte and her great aunt and uncle, who adopted her after the attack, live in western Michigan, but drove to Beaumont Children’s Hospital after they read news reports of Dr. Chaiyasate’s reconstructive surgical abilities.
“When I look at her, I think, if she were my daughter, what would I do? …My job is to restore her form and function. It’s a privilege to be part of this treatment to restore her life. That’s what doctors are supposed to do,” Dr. Chaiyasate said.
Over the past two years, Dr. Chaiyasate has performed several facial surgeries to repair the damage from the attack, including building a new nose for Charlotte and repairing her lip and cheek.
“He sat down with Charlotte on a chair and made eye contact with her. He talked right to her, not to us. He said, ‘Charlotte, would you like a nose and an ear?’ She said, ‘Sure.’ That really impressed me that he cares. He’s more than just a doctor. He really cares,” Sharon Ponce, Charlotte’s adoptive mother, said.
On April 15, 2014, Dr. Chaiyasate removed pieces of Charlotte’s ribs to create a new ear for her. He placed the molded pieces of the ribs under the skin of Charlotte’s forearm to allow skin to grow around the new ear.
“We made an incision on her forearm. Then, we put in a balloon to expand the tissue and stretch the skin, while carving. Then, I went back, pulled the balloon out and put the new ear in, and the skin collapsed. That’s the process,” Dr. Chaiyasate said.
In about eight weeks, Dr. Chaiyasate will remove the ear from her forearm and attach it to her head.