Joanna is an extraordinary dancer. The day before her surgery our families spent some time together at Sydney Harbour. What a great backdrop for some very impressive dance moves!
When Jo was asked how she felt about being the third person to receive a custom 3D printed ear implant she said “I’m not the third, I’m the first girl!”
And what do you think might be the number one desire of a young girl with microtia? You guessed it; she wants to be able to wear earrings!
Just as every face is different, so is the shape of every person’s ear. For a child with microtia, this also means that the shape of their ear remnant is unique. The wonderful thing about custom 3D printed ear implants is that we can refine the shape of each child’s new big ear to match them individually.
Once Jo told me about her wish to wear earrings, I planned to use some of her ear remnant to create an earlobe that was thick enough to pierce. We even had some sterile studs so we were ready to pierce both her ears. Unfortunately during surgery I discovered that her ear lobe was too far back and I needed to move it to create the best angle for the ear (which has to slope gently backwards to look natural).
I was disappointed not to be able to give her a pierced ear like I said I would, but when I told her the reason, she didn’t hesitate and said: “That’s ok”. Her maturity blew me away and inspired me to come up with a solution. Once her new ear heals in its new position we will be able to revisit the piercing issue and I am already planning a little piercing session. Lucky we share a love of violet crumbles, because we might both need some to get us through that one!
Jo came in for her post-op check 10 days after her surgery and her ear is healing well. During the one operation Jo also received the Cochlear Baha® System bone anchored hearing aid implant.
I love this work because every person I meet with this problem (and their families!) are already resilient, yet looking for a chance to have back what was meant to be there when they were born. It’s the joy of a lifetime to be able to offer that opportunity and be part of their journey.
And it’s my youngest patients who always have a lesson to share. The message on Jo’s shirt says it all, and this is a young girl whose dreams can come true.
I’ll update you when we have the ear piercing session…!