August 24th, 2015
Photo courtesy: akronchildrens.org
It is a common practice among patients to consider that doctor as equivalent to God who cures them of rare diseases. If not God, then they regard the doctors at least as godsends. 8-year-old Elijah Bell’s family has a reason to feel this grateful to an Indian origin doctor in Washington, USA.
Elijah was born with a rare birth defect called bilateral astresia microtia. In this the outer ears remain undeveloped. Elijah had no opening to the middle and inner ear, though they had developed normally. This meant that despite having the ability to hear, he could not hear properly because sounds did not reach the middle and inner ears though the outer ears. He would always be seen with a bone-anchored hearing aid in order to struggle to hear sounds. We can only imagine how cumbersome that would be to the poor kid!
Given these circumstances, Doctor Ananth Murthy, Director of Plastic Surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital performed five rounds of surgeries, which were nothing less than an artistic feat, to grow the outer ears for Elijah.
The first round of surgery had begun when Elijah was just 4 years old. To make the new ear, Elijah’s rib cartilage had to be harvested. Moreover, a skin graft from Elijah’s thighs had to be used to create a gap between his ears and his head. The final round of surgery took place in July this year. In this, Elijah’s ears had to be given detailed “hills and valleys”, a procedure to help create the natural curves of an ear. This was the ultimate artistic creation of an amazingly miraculous journey since the body wants to smoothen out everything as it heals.
Needless to say, the little boy and his family were elated on 28th July after the final round was successfully executed. At last, Elijah does not have to depend on any external hearing aids for the first time since his birth. From the second grade at Frazer Elementary in Canton, Ohio, upwards, Elijah can carry on with his life like his classmates.
He feels proud of his new ears. And we feel proud of the doctor who accomplished this near-impossible feat. After all, what else can we call magic if not this?