Michigan girl mauled by raccoon gets surgery to replace ear

(CBS) - A Michigan girl whose face was severely mauled by a pet raccoon when she was a baby is getting reconstructive surgery Tuesday to create a new ear.

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Ponce is a veteran of many previous surgeries to repair damage to her nose, lip and cheek.

For the latest operation, Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak is taking cartilage from Charlotte's ribs and carving it into the shape of an ear using a computer-generated template based on the girl's other ear. Then he'll implant the ear structure under the skin of Charlotte's forearm. The skin will mold to the ear shape over a period of weeks.

Chaiyasate, the director of reconstructive microsurgery at Beaumont, performed a series of five operations in 2012 to rebuild Charlotte's nose, which was also disfigured by the attack. At the time, the girl's adoptive mother, Sharon Ponce, described it as "the best Christmas present she could ever get."

The family's blog, Healing Charlotte, tells the harrowing story of how the girl was attacked in her crib as a baby by a pet raccoon that gnawed away at her right ear, upper lip and cheeks. CBS Detroit reports that she barely survived and spent months in the hospital. Charlotte and her brother were removed from the home and later adopted by their great aunt and uncle.

Before the series of operations began at Beaumont, Charlotte had already undergone half a dozen reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts. Some resulted in painful complications, and an earlier attempt at a prosthetic ear had to be removed after repeated infections, according to the blog. But despite the trauma, the family said Charlotte was "starting the road to emotional and mental recovery," taking dance, art and gymnastics and making new friends at school.

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