In a few weeks, Charlotte Ponce will have a right ear surgically attached at William Beaumont Hospital near Detroit.
“I can’t wait to wear earrings,” the Spring Lake Township girl said, describing a pair of owl earrings she has at home.
Two weeks ago, her surgeon removed cartilage from her ribs and, with the help of computer modeling, molded it into a replica of her left ear. The surgeon then implanted the ear into her right forearm so that her skin can form around the cartilage.
In June, the surgeon will remove the ear from her arm and attach it to the side of her head.
“It took him almost four hours to carve it into the shape of her other ear,” said Sharon Ponce, Charlotte’s great-aunt and adoptive mother. “He said he practiced on a potato. It’s amazing. At the hospital, when they were describing the surgery, it just kind of hit me how amazing and how bizarre everything is.”
According to Sharon, in September 2002, Charlotte’s birth parents had put the baby girl down in her crib with a bottle inside the family home, a pole barn that had been renovated into an apartment. The mother was next door and the father was elsewhere.
“The pet raccoon somehow got in the house,” Sharon said. “It was probably hungry and wanted her bottle.”
The raccoon chewed off Charlotte’s nose, lips and right ear.
“By the time (her father) found her, it had pretty much eaten her face,” Sharon said.
Charlotte’s parents lost custody of the girl after the attack. Sharon and her husband, Tim, took Charlotte and her older-by-13-months brother, Marshall, and adopted them three years later.
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