A boy who was born without any ears has had a pair created from his own ribs.
Not many nine-year-olds desire to have a “big pair of ears”, but before the operation, it was Kieran Sorkin’s biggest wish.
On Tuesday last week, experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) performed a six-hour operation in which they used cartilage from his ribs to create a pair of ears and grafted them to his head.
The boy was born deaf and also had a rare condition which meant he did not have fully formed ears – just small lobes where his ears should be. While the latest procedure was primarily cosmetic, thanks to several previous operations and a hearing aid Kieran has gradually been able to hear.
Without help he is still around 90 per cent deaf, but when using hearing aids he can “hear the wind blow and the birds tweet”, his father, David Sorkin, said.
Kieran, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, struggled at his first school because he looked different to the other children.
But Mr Sorkin said that the operation will boost his son’s confidence “no end”. “They look like normal ears; he had nothing but has got proper-sized ears now and they cover the gap where ears should have been,” he said.
The 44-year-old IT manager added: “It’s been heart-wrenching for us and we’ve had the moral dilemma all along of whether it’s right to change the features that Kieran was born with. But Kieran has talked about having ear surgery ever since the age of six, when he saw a TV programme about it.”
Kieran was born with bilateral microtia – which affects just one in 100,000 babies – a congenital deformity where the external ear is underdeveloped. During the operation, Neil Bulstrode, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Gosh, harvested the rib cartilage from both sides of Kieran’s chest and then carved and shaped it into frameworks for Kieran’s ears. He used an outline of Mrs Sorkin’s ears as a “family template”.
He then grafted the ears on to Kieran’s head under pockets of skin and then used a vacuum to shape the skin to the contours of the new ear.