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New surgery provides lifelike working ear

August 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Every day, nearly a hundred babies are born with some kind of ear deformity. Now doctors are not only helping those with ear deformities hear again, but also giving them a new look. It's the closest thing to being born with a normal ear.Mark Andrews is the "Chicken Man." He's a comic, and drives them to shows in his van, which serves as a hotel on tour. Mark was born with a congenital ear deformity. He had no ear and no outer ear canal.

"You're missing out on that side, and things that you take for granted," said Mark.

He turned to Duke University Doctor David Kaylie for help.

"It really is the only sense that can be lost and restored," said Kaylie.

Kaylie built a new ear canal, then drilled titanium screws into the side and base of Mark's skull to anchor a permanent ear. Over three months, Mark's skull grew into and through those screws.

Anaplastologist Jay McClennen took over next. You may have seen his work before. He did the makeup on "X-Men" and other films. He crafted a rubber ear to snap onto those titanium posts next to Mark's new hearing aid.

Mark and his doctors are proud of his before-and-after shots.

"He can hear from that side for the first time in his life, as well as have a normal-looking ear," said Kaylie.

"This is a big, big thing for me," said Mark.

Now that the "Chicken Man" looks and hears like everyone else, he'll go back on the road to catch up on the chuckling and clucking he's been missing.

"Once you come on this side, then you really know what you really missed," said Mark.

Duke University experts say cases like this were previously solved with up to eight total surgeries. Four of those surgeries created an ear canal while the four remaining procedures crafted an actual ear.

This new surgery takes one hour on the operating table.


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