Chennai: Nine-year-old Nathan from Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, will not forget Chennai in his life. For, it was the city that gave him a new ear! Now he can wear sunglasses and use headphones!
“Its very nice (to have got a new ear). I will go back to school,” he said as he prepared for his travel back to his hometown Beau Vallon, Mahe, on Tuesday. He underwent two-phased surgery and got his right ear reconstructed, thanks to the expertise of Dr S.M. Balaji, a Maxillo facial surgeon and director of Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital here.
He was born without an external right ear and suffered psychological trauma as a result. “He had a very small, rudimentary ear lobule whereas his left ear was normal. Doctors in his hometown diagnosed the kid’s hearing was normal,” Dr Balaji explained.
Trouble began when he started going to school. “Children at school teased him because of his ear and he was an object of ridicule and unwelcome stares,” he said. His parents Chander and Natalie launched a frantic hunt for hospitals that could help solve the boy’s problem.
Finally, the Seychelles government referred him here for ear reconstruction which was successfully performed using the boy’s own rib graft. “Since artificial materials could lead to problems like infection, allergy and loss of stability over a period of time, we decided to reconstruct the ear using the patient’s own graft to ensure stable results,” Dr Balaji said.
A template was made based on the measurements of the normal ear. A costochondral graft was taken from the left rib and using the template the graft was contoured to create the structural framework.
“This is most crucial and has to be done with great precision and accuracy,” he said. The cartilage banking surgery was performed about three months ago. The second stage surgery was performed last week to lift the ear by using the excess preserved cartilage and skin graft. “The right ear was made big to suit his adult stage. It will not grow in size while his left ear will grow as he matures into an adult,” Dr Balaji said and added that Nathan might require revision surgery at a later stage. “I am happy for him. He got a new ear and can wear sunglasses and use headphones,” Natalie, the patient’s mother said.