14-year-old boy's wish comes true after receiving ear reconstruction using new technology

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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A young boy's wish to just get through a day without strange stares and ridicule is about to come true. We were there for his post-op reveal after receiving a new form of ear reconstruction.

A young boy's wish to just get through a day without strange stares and ridicule is about to come true.

In a small town in South Africa, Victor Nwadike was born without a fully-formed ear and little hope of getting the medical expertise to get one. Now, his story is opening the door for other needy children to get this procedure.

Last week, we met Nwadike right before he underwent a new, high-tech form of ear reconstruction.

"It's been one week after surgery. So it's gonna look very swollen and bruised," said cranio-facial plastic surgeon Dr. Sheryl Lewin as she started to unravel his bandages.

The14-year-old's road to this moment has been cemented in rude comments and cruel questions.

"People always ask me what happened to your ear? They keep on asking me, 'Did you burn it from the sun?'"

Victor was born with microtia. It's when the outer ear doesn't develop fully during pregnancy. Hearing on that side can be muffled, but what suffers most is a child's self esteem.

Through her foundation, Lewin offers what she calls "Earicles" or ear miracles for children with failed reconstructions.

"Once you have put a scar on a kid, you don't realize the consequence of that," she said.

When he was younger, Nwadike underwent conventional surgery. A rib was used to fashion a new ear, but the result didn't stop the bullying.

"Difficult, very, very difficult," he said.

Lewin put the finishing touches on the graceful folds in Nwadike's new ear, which was designed through 3D scanning technology that Lewin helped develop.

It's a mirror of the patient's healthy ear. Porous implant fabricators, Su-Por, create the implant with material that encourages tissue binding.

In the operating suite, Lewin carefully removes the failed ear, aligns the new implant and covers it with fascia and skin grafts. One week later, it's time for the big reveal.

"I am just so emotional because it has been such a long journey... I'm sorry, it's just emotional for me right now," said Viola Nwadike.

"This is the day I've been waiting for my whole life," said Victor.

With every passing week, the swelling will go down. Lewin predicts in six months, both ears will look very much the same. And the ultimate goal is for Nwadike to forget about this ear.

"None of us really think about our ears and that's what we want for these kids. We don't want anybody staring. We don't want them worried about it," Lewin said.

"We want them to hold their head up high in public and be able to just continue with life," said Viola Nwadike.

Now Victor's family's non-profit Give an Ear is teaming up with Lewin to provide "Earicles" to other needy children from Africa.

Lewin said they should be able to offer the procedure to at least one kid a year, changing lives one child at a time.