The Doctors: Sherrie Lost Her Ear From Basal Cell Carcinoma
The Doctors TV show featured Sherrie Walters, who experienced a true medical miracle when doctors grew her a new ear inside her arm.
Sherrie thought she just had a scab on her left ear that wasn’t going away, but it turned out to be basal cell carcinomathat had spread to her ear, neck and lymph nodes. She had to have 36 lymph nodes, her temporal bone, ear, eardrum and her ear canal removed.
Sherrie’s surgery took 16 hours. She only had the top third of her ear left, and it looked like a hook. Dr. Patrick Byrne told her that there was an opportunity for reconstruction, but it sounded like science fiction to her.
The Drs: Woman’s Ear Grown in Her Arm
Dr. Byrne put a tissue expander in her arm to make room for the ear. He removed cartilage from three of her ribs and shaved it down to make an ear shape. The ear was then inserted into her arm so that the skin could grow and adhere to it.
The ear was in Sherrie’s arm for five months. Towards the end, she and her family would make jokes about it. After a 12 hour surgery, the ear was attached to her head, but she was upset because to her it looked like a glob of Play Doh.
She will soon have another surgery to refine the ear shape. Check out Sherrie’s surgery experience in the video below.
The Drs TV: Aggressive Basal Cell Carcinoma
Dr. Travis Stork said that people don’t realize that the ear is the third most common site for basal cell carcinoma. Sherrie’s story is unique because her case of cancer was extremely aggressive. Usually basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread like hers did.
Dr. Byrne called in to The Drs. to talk about the groundbreaking procedure he performed. He said that to his knowledge, he didn’t think anything like this had ever been performed in North America.
Dr. Byrne said that this is a process that they had come up with many years ago, and they knew it would work for the right patient. Luckily for Sherrie, she was that patient. He said there will probably be two more procedures to shape and fine tune her ear.
The Doctors: Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA)
When Sherrie’s ear was removed from her arm, it had arteries and veins and was an actual ear. She had skin grafts from her thighs to cover up the skin that was removed for her ear.
Sherrie has a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) implant so that she can hear from her left side. She said it’s a little bit different than her original hearing but it’s fabulous to be able to hear again.
Sherrie’s parents Joan and Joe were on the show too and Joan talked about how proud she was of her daughter for going through this.