11-year-old who lost ear to a raccoon as a baby to receive one grown on forearm

By Jenna Iacurci, Parent Herald April 16, 04:13 pm

A raccoon attack mutilated Charlotte Ponce's face - leaving her with no nose or ear - when she was just three months old. Now, at age 11 and several surgeries later, she will receive a new ear.

Ponce's biological parents left her alone in her crib when a pet raccoon attacked her.

"The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face, all the way back to the ear," Sharon Ponce, her great-aunt, told ABC News. "Her right side is totally scarred and she's had three surgeries to remove some of it almost two years ago."

Sharon, 54, and her husband Tim from Spring Lake, Mich., adopted both Charlotte and her older brother Marshall when they saw the horrific story on the news. The court process took years and the children were not adopted until ages 3 and 4, according to Z6Mag.

Now, 10 years later, Charlotte is undergoing a revolutionary surgery led by Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate that will recreate the ear she lost that day. The six-to-eight-hour operation took place early Tuesday and finished around 2 p.m., according to Beaumont Children's Hospital.

"As a plastic surgeon you need to think outside the box a little bit," Chaiyasate noted.

Chaiyasate and his surgical team took a piece of Charlotte's cartilage from her ribs and molded it to match her other ear. He will implant the structure under the skin of her forearm and in the next 8 weeks the skin will mold to the shape of her ear. In June, another surgery will transplant the newly crafted ear to the right side of her head.

The waiting game is no easy thing, however.

"There is a certain amount of nervousness," Sharon said. "It's hard when your child is going into surgery, but we are confident the doctor knows what he is doing - he's done it before."

Charlotte, on the other hand, could not be more excited.

"It sounds kind of weird but she was looking forward to the surgery, saying, 'When can I go again?' You have to meet her; she is such a special kid - one of a kind."

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