New Implant Gives Boy New Ear - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/26/04

New Implant Gives Boy New Ear

Imagine being born without an ear on one side. That was the situation for a little Arizona boy, but now, a New York City doctor is changing his life.

The 6-year-old is Eddie Hobbs. Actually, he doesn't think there's a thing wrong with him, but the condition is called Microtia, which literally means small ear. It's a spontaneous birth defect that has nothing to do with anything mom did during pregnancy. It just happens.

"There are a million births in the United States a year, so there are anywhere from several hundred of these children born just in the United States each year," says Dr. Thomas Romo, plastic surgeon.

But Eddie and his mother have traveled all the way to New York to try something new. Reconstruction usually means removal of a large piece of rib cartilage to create an ear over the course of a half dozen operations.

But Dr. Thomas Romo has worked out a way to use something called porous polyethylene, which means implanting this framework for skin to grow over.

"Because it's porous, the body grows into it. It's 50% porous and so the body tends to fight infection well when it's exposed," says Dr. Romo.

Eddie will only need two operations, the first is an outpatient procedure, and then, eight weeks later, some finishing touches to the ear and the implantation of a special hearing aid that will restore Eddie's hearing on his left side. And all of this is being covered by the Little Baby Face Foundation which Dr. Romo started to help kids with facial deformities.

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