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Boy aged 9 gets a pair of new ears, made from his own ribs

By Ella Pickover

A boy born without ears has had a pair created from his own ribs.

Not many nine-year-olds yearn to have a "big pair of ears" but before the operation it was Kieran Sorkin's greatest wish.

Last Tuesday, experts at the world renowned Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) performed a six- hour operation where they used cartilage from his ribs to create two ears and grafted them to his head.

Born deaf, the boy also had a rare condition which meant he did not have fully formed ears, just small lobes.

While the latest procedure was primarily cosmetic, thanks to several previous operations and a hearing aid, Kieran has gradually been able to hear.

Without help he is still around 90 per cent deaf, but when using hearing aids he can "hear the wind blow and the birds tweet", his father David Sorkin said.

Kieran, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, struggled at his first school because he looked different. Mr Sorkin said the operation will boost his son's confidence "no end".

Before the surgery, Kieran said: "I've always wanted big ears, and now I'm finally going to have them."

Following the procedure his parents helped him to take a photograph of his newly crafted ear, or a "side selfie", to which he simply replied: "Wow".

Mr Sorkin said that he and his wife Louise were over the moon. "We're absolutely on cloud nine," he said. "We could not have wished for a better result.

"They look like normal ears, he had nothing but has got proper sized ears now and they cover the gap where ears should have been. They look normal bar a couple of sewing marks which will go away in time.

"His reaction was just a 'wow'. He is very happy."

The 44-year-old IT manager added: "It's been heart-wrenching for us and we've had the moral dilemma all along of whether it's right to change the features that Kieran was born with. But Kieran has talked about having ear surgery ever since the age of six when he saw a TV programme about it.

"It was very important that this was Kieran's decision, and I think it's happened at exactly the right time for his development."

He also described Kieran's difficulties at school, saying: "He had problems at school in that he didn't gel very well in the groups because he looked different to other kids and he only had one or two friends at his previous school.

"He has now moved to a different school and they have a deaf unit in every year so they are a little bit more receptive to deafness and to a child looking different."

Kieran was born with bilateral microtia, a congenital deformity where the external ear is underdeveloped. It affects just one in 100,000 babies. Medics, led by GOSH consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon Neil Bulstrode, have turned his fortunes around.

During the six-hour operation Mr Bulstrode harvested the rib cartilage from both sides of Kieran's chest and then carved and shaped it into frameworks for Kieran's ears. When designing them he used an outline of Mrs Sorkin's ears as a "family template" and grafted them on.

Kieran will have a follow-up operation in six months time, and hopefully will not need any more, Mr Sorkin added.

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