An 11-year-old girl whose face was destroyed by a raccoon when she was 3 months old will have the chance to have her face completely restored through plastic surgery.
Charlotte Ponce had been left alone by her biological parents when their pet raccoon ate through her face in 2002. She and her brother had been left inside a pool barn that their parents had turned into an apartment, where several raccoons lived as pets. She was left without a nose or ear, but surgeons will now craft an ear through rib cartilage in a surgery that was in progress today.
“The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face, all the way back to the ear,” Sharon Ponce, Charlotte’s great-aunt who is now taking care of her, told ABC News. “Her right side is totally scarred and she’s had three surgeries to remove some of it almost two years ago.”
The surgery will take about 6 to 8 hours, and will hopefully provide Charlotte with a new ear that she can pierce someday. “There is a certain amount of nervousness,” Ponce told ABC News. “It’s hard when your child is going into surgery, but we are confident the doctor knows what he is doing — he’s done it before.”
Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, Charlotte’s surgeon who has already created a new nose for her, will build her ear by removing cartilage from her ribs. It’s a “revolutionary” procedure that has only been completed two times before. “What you do here is you need a framework and you put that framework under an area of skin to allow the framework to stay and become part of the body,” Chaiyasate told WXYZ. He will mold the cartilage into an ear, place it into her forearm to grow, then remove it and attach it to the ear 8 weeks later.
Chaiyasate has completed nine surgeries on Charlotte — primarily in 2012, when he created her new nose and fixed scars on her lips and cheek. “Now, all she wants is to wear two earrings,” Ponce told ABC News. “You have to meet her; she is such a special kid — one of a kind.”