To the Children and Adults Who Have Been Teased, Picked On, or Bullied…
My heart goes out to the children and adults who have been bullied, teased or picked on because of their Microtia ears or crooked smiles…whether they have had surgery or not. I know all of us try to raise our children to be confident now and later in life, but sometimes no matter what you do, things will happen in life that will take away from what you have worked so hard at accomplishing with your child. Sometimes, all it takes is one bad bullying to scar someone for life. Every person is different and every community or school or situation that every person experiences is different. Even the reactions or the affect of being teased is different for everyone. Each one of us has a different chemical make-up for our personality, behavior, emotions, etc… How we respond emotionally is already predetermined and programmed into us. Yes, some of us who are bullied are able to bounce back and move forward, but some of us just don’t have the strength, courage, or coat of armor to do the same. Please remember that you have done nothing wrong and you do not deserve to be teased or bullied. You are still a person who loves, and lives and plays and sings…just like all of us. I can only hope that you find enough strength to go on and find a wonderful circle of friends who love you, enjoy you, and accept you for who you are as an individual. Be yourself and don’t ever let anyone get you down. The bullies are just not worth it. A little ear is no different than anyone who has a differently shaped nose or smaller or larger eyes, a high forehead, or two different colored eyes, or a receding hair line, and I could go on and on. If someone can not see past this, then they do not deserve to be your friend. Bullies or those who tease are just not worth it. You are better than them because no one likes a bully.
You are entitled to all the happiness in the world. So, please don’t let anyone try and tell you that you should keep your little ear because it is a part of you or because it builds character. If you do not believe this then begin doing your research. Especially, if you truly believe that you can be happier with a surgically reconstructed ear or a prosthetic ear. I know some of us would just like to be able to wear eyeglasses and sunglasses.
To the Children and Adults Who Have Thankfully Moved Past the Bullying…
Now, for the members in our group who have managed not to be bullied and who have managed to easily fit in…thank you for showing us that it can be done. I am relieved to know that many of our members have chosen to keep their little ears, like them them and are proud of them. I think my daughter’s ear is beautiful. It reminds me of a treble clef musical staff note. If you believe your little ear has given you character and has added to your personality, then it has. If your little ear does not bother you, then you are lucky to not be bothered by others comments because you are strong. If you like your ear, then have fun with it. Pierce your ear, show it off, be proud of your little ear. I will tell you, that there is no doubt in my mind that every one of us can become whatever we want to be in life. Little ears can not hold anyone back as long as you don’t let them. In fact, sometimes little ears can make you reach for even more in life and accomplish even the highest goals. There are members in our group who have Microtia and Atresia and who have not had surgery who have become surgeons, doctors, musicians and singers, founders and vice presidents of companies, attorneys, engineers, athletes, news anchors, teachers, and wonderful parents and such. All regardless of being bullied as they grew up. Below are just a couple of famous people who where born with Microtia and Atresia who have managed to make something wonderful of themselves:
Paul Stanley of KISS
Rock Star, Singer, Musician, Artist, and Public Icon
Paul Stanley, lead singer of the rock band KISS has Microtia and Atresia of his right ear. Paul had canalplasty (Atresia repair) and also wears a BAHA. Below is a video and an article of Paul Stanley speaking out about his experience with Microtia and Atresia:
– Sourced from CNN Health, www.cnn.com, published by Universal Publishing, Narrated/interviewed by Sanjay Gupta on June 14th, 2011.
In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week KISS singer Paul Stanley explains how he became the frontman for one of the most successful rock bands in America, despite being born deaf in his right ear.
“I was born with a Level 3 Microtia, which is a congenital deformity of the cartilage of the outer ear, and occurs in approximately 1 out of every 8,000 to 10,000 births. There is no ear canal and no direct path to the inner-workings of the ear. Except for bone conduction, I’m virtually deaf on my right side, as there is no access for sound to enter.
I’ve had an implanted hearing aid for about two years now. This is a device that is usually given to children at an early age or to adults who have lost their hearing due to a medical condition. This has been an ongoing adjustment for me as my brain has never processed sound coming in from my right side. In the beginning, it was incredibly taxing and extremely confusing. It would be like you are suddenly developing an eye in the back of your head. That said, it has settled in quite a bit and I have to say, it has enhanced my day-to-day activities.
People often ask if my hearing problem has had any impact on my career. It’s sometimes hard for people to understand that you don’t miss what you’ve never had. When blind people speak about seeing or colors, it’s very personal to them.
In the same way, I may not hear music the way other people hear it, but I have nothing else to compare it to, or didn’t for most of my life. I haven’t felt at a loss for anything. I have no sense of the direction of sound, yet I have no trouble mixing a stereo album. I hear the expanse or width of sound but I can’t necessarily tell you where it’s coming from.
Times have changed greatly since I was a child. Medicine, particularly advancements in hearing health, has greatly evolved. If there is a way to improve your hearing, then by all means, take the initiative and do something about it.
To young and old alike, take care of your hearing because once you lose it, you can’t get it back. Use earplugs if you’re exposed to loud noise for prolonged periods of time including concerts. Keep personal listening devices to safe, acceptable levels. There are better ways to listen without sacrificing your enjoyment or your hearing health.
To those of you that suffer from some form of hearing loss, take comfort in the fact that many, many great people have succeeded in monumental ways without normal hearing, or any hearing for that matter.
Hearing loss may be a small pothole in the road, but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from getting where you want to go. I’m living proof!”
Sasha Gardner, a British model from the UK. Below is an article explaining Sasha’s experience with Microtia and Atresia:
The below article explains Sasha Gardner’s story about her experience having Microtia:
U.K. Model’s Surprising Secret
– Sourced from ABC NEWS, by Emily Friedman, (@EmilyABC), Dec. 17, 2007.
“At first glance it’s nearly impossible to tell that British-born model and reality television star Sasha Gardner was born with a serious facial deformity.
Gardner, now 25, was born without her right ear, a condition known as microtia. The Microtia-Congenital Ear Institute estimates that one in every 6,000 to 12,000 newborns is born with only one ear.
In place of an average-looking ear, Gardner was born with what she described to the U.K.’s Daily Mail as a “stump.” She was constantly teased by peers who called her “pizza ear” and “alien head.” Gardner was not available for comment for this story.
Gardner also had no hearing on her right side — she was born with no inner ear and no auditory canal — and due to the lack of an external ear, could not be fitted for a hearing aid, her doctor, David Gault, told ABCNEWS.com.
Before meeting Gault during her late teens, Gardner had reportedly shied away from corrective surgery — she was turned off by the prospect of being fitted with a prosthetic ear — an option many living with microtia choose.
But what Gault had to offer Gardner — and what he eventually performed for her — was something entirely different. In a procedure known as rib cartilage ear reconstruction, Gault crafted Gardner a new ear from cartilage taken from right above her rib cage.
Ear Reconstruction: Combination of Art and Science
There are several ways to reconstruct an ear, and using rib cartilage to form an ear has become the medical profession’s preferred method.
“Rib cartilage ear reconstruction has become the gold standard,” Dr. Sherill Aston, a N.Y., plastic surgeon, told ABCNEWS.com. “There are lots of nuances to an ear that you have to work out to make an ear that looks normal. No other tissue molds like rib tissue does — you can cut it strip, fold it and suture it in a precise position.”
The procedure is done in several steps, said Aston, who explained that first the cartilage must be harvested from the patient and then a mold of the good ear is made so that the surgeon has a template to follow while constructing the new ear.
A completed reconstructed ear could take several years depending on the length of the patient’s healing time.
Aston added that using rib cartilage is a lot safer than other methods, particularly ones that use plastic and synthetic materials, which may not agree with a patient’s body as well.
“Synthetic materials have no blood supply in them, and there is a high instance of infection because tissues can’t grow into them, and they have a tendency to erode,” said Aston. In addition, prosthetic ears can be removed — they are attached to the head by two posts — and that is often unappealing to patients.
The outcome of a reconstructed ear varies from patient to patient, and depends on, among other things, the skill of the surgeon and the pliability of the patient’s skin.
“Plastic surgery is part art and part science,” said Aston. “It’s like painting a picture — some people are going to make this thing look better than others and will have the aesthetic judgment. Lots of factors come into play, from the quality and the amount of skin to the deformity the person first presents with.”
If a surgeon is also attempting to restore a patient’s hearing, the entire procedure can take even longer, said Dr. John Canady, president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgery.
“Virtually everyone [with microtia] has some degree of hearing loss in that affected ear, and that hearing loss may or may not be reparable,” Canady told ABCNEWS.com. “If a CAT scan shows that the hearing is able to be reconstructed, then you’d combine those operations as part of the treatment planning.”
Gault said that Gardner’s surgery was performed purely for aesthetic reasons, and did not address her hearing loss.
When to Reconstruct
While Gardner waited until her late teens to get her own ear reconstructed, Canady said that determining when the best time for the surgery is function of a patient’s age and the amount of rib cartilage they have.
“Ears continue to grow until you’re about 5 years old,” said Canady. “And if you’re trying to match the size of the ear, which you are in this kind of surgery, then it becomes stable at around 5.”
“The other issue in terms of timing is, like this girl in England, is if the reconstruction method you chose is one that uses rib cartilage, you want to make sure you have the most cartilage you can,” said Canady.
The older you are, said Canady, the more rib cartilage you will have, which is why some people try to wait as long as possible before having the operation.
Besides the medical implications that accompany any surgery, Canady added that one of the biggest challenges he faces during ear reconstructions is with insurance companies, many of which often refuse to cover the operation if it’s only for aesthetic reasons, and makes no attempt to improve the patient’s hearing.
“This is more than just an apparent operation,” said Canady. “If you need to wear glasses or sunglasses or a hearing aid, you need to help retain the glasses better. [Insurance companies’ resistance] is very unfortunate, particularly for a kid who is being teased.”
The Movie: Finding Nemo
A favorite movie among many across the world is “Finding Nemo” about a young clown fish who was born with one fin that is smaller than the other fin. However, Nemo is accepted within his community just fine and the movie does not focus on his little fin being a disability, but as a part of Nemo’s character as getting along in the sea just as any other fish would. This movie is remarkable and allows viewers to see that a little fin or any related similarity does not have to affect your life and helps you realize that you can be anything you want to be in life. Below is an excellent movie review that discusses the wonderful characteristics of this movie and Nemo’s little fin.
BOOK & FILM REVIEWS
Disability Studies Quarterly
Winter 2004, Volume 24, No. 1
by the Society for Disability Studies
“Other” Fish in the Sea: “Finding Nemo” as an Epic Representation of Disability
“Finding Nemo,” 2003. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios. Directed by Andrew Stanton, co-directed by Lee Unkrike. Written by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, and David Reynolds; based on a story by Andrew Stanton. Produced by Graham Walters.
Reviewed by Ann Millett, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The animated feature “Finding Nemo” swept the box office last summer, and audiences of all ages and critics alike were overwhelmed by how a seemingly simple story had made such a splash. Recently having a second life on DVD, the film has become the most financially successful film of 2003 and the largest grossing animated feature of all time, outshining Disney/Pixar’s previous hits Toy Story I and II and Monsters, Inc., as well as its competing summer blockbusters. “Finding Nemo” surfaced as a characteristic Disney epic adventure and heart-warming coming of age tale with resplendent twists. The plot follows a young clown fish, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who is separated from his father, Marlin (Albert Brooks), by the human intervention of a scuba diver and held captive in the office fish tank of a Sydney, Australia dentist (Bill Hunter). Nemo is rescued through the joint efforts of exotic, yet familiarly goofy, ironically down-to-earth, and cleverly caricatured populations of marine creatures. Seagulls, pelicans, turtles, manta rays, jellyfish, squid, starfish, sharks, whales, lobsters, other curious crustaceans, and a glorious array of tropical fish in all configurations and designs animate the film’s lavish oceanic world. The creatures are not only strikingly heterogeneous in appearance, but also have international accents or dialects and personas that convey a variety of social styles. This cast of characters, their tongue-in-cheek, witty dialogue, and appropriately colorful depictions add to the appeal and smash success of the film, as vivid and illusionistic artistry positions the viewer as a visually awed undersea explorer.
I, too, was reeled in by the tempo, humor, and visual splendor of the film, as one who appreciates and studies visual culture. Further, as a disability studies-minded viewer, I saw far more beneath the spectacular surface. In “Finding Nemo”, I discovered sunken treasure—a multifaceted representation of disability. The protagonist, Nemo, displays a small, or “deformed,” fin that is a congenital result of a fatal attack on his mother and sibling eggs—a corporeal characteristic that the story surrounds, yet does not drown in. In an aquatic natural world where species maintain characteristic, standardized appearances, Nemo is marked as visually and socially different, yet hardly inadequate. He explains that he has a “lucky” fin when questioned by his classmates, who then offer their own explanations of distinctive physical quirks: a squid confesses to having a lazy tentacle, a seahorse boasts of his “H2O intolerance.” Nemo’s peers accept him, even admire his self-confident attitude and plucky spirit, because in this diverse “school” of fish, everybody’s different. Considering such characteristics as “disabilities” may seem absurd; however, this makes a valid parallel point about many physical differences and their assumed consequences.
There is suggestion in the film that Nemo may not be able to swim as well as other fish, particularly by his father, but no evidence supports this, or at least Nemo swims well enough with his own adapted methods to get where he needs and wants to go. In true to life fashion, Nemo continually negotiates and battles restrictive assumptions about him based on his impaired fin, to both positive and negative results. Disabled people are commonly underestimated, often most painfully by those who should have the most faith in us, who love us, and know us best, exemplified by Marlin’s loving, but potentially damaging overprotection of his son. Marlin smothers Nemo, sequesters him near their home, attempts to speak for him, and fears others’ condemnation to the point that he avoids social interaction. Marlin enacts his son’s social exclusion, continually embarrasses and frustrates the willful Nemo, and causes rifts in their relationship. To defiantly establish his independence, Nemo enters into the drastically deeper section of the sea surrounding his community termed the “drop off,” where he is captured. His disability plays a role in his fate, yet not because he is inherently deficient or vulnerable, and that same disability enables his return home, for his marking identifies him for those who search—it makes him memorable. Disability becomes part of Nemo’s personal history and social identity, visually marking him as a survivor.
“Finding Nemo” proves to be an unconventional, transgressive representation of disability. In conventional narrative, disability becomes the sole characteristic of one-dimensional characters that most often require physical change, repair, or elimination in order for the narrative to maintain a supposedly preferable state of social and psychic order, or “normality.” Such narratives tend to fall into generic categories that typecast disabled characters as misfortunate tragedies or sentimental, largely patronized heroes. Conversely, “Finding Nemo” paints disability as a flavorful ingredient in cultural diversity—both remarkable, yet necessarily everyday, perhaps even disguised in the tides of life. Indeed, to the mainstream audience, “Finding Nemo” isn’t “about” disability at all, because physical difference isn’t a glaring spectacle in the film that signals danger or elicits pity, as viewers may be more used to witnessing. Further, disability is presented as a socially constructed character quality, rather than a state of the body to which value judgments are assigned. The fact that the role of disability floats past the mainstream audience and most critics of “Finding Nemo” without notice perhaps attests on a metanarrative level to how disability may afford a privileged viewing perspective, such that “seeing” disability occurs more immediately for a disability-aware audience who identify with the characters and discover deeper layers of meaning in the film.
In addition to Nemo, various eccentric aquatic bodies and personalities flow in and out of the screen in harmonies of difference, many of which may be considered disabilities. Many of the characters’ humorous idiosyncrasies could be called “abnormalities.” Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a lively blue tang who becomes Marlin’s sidekick on the quest for Nemo’s rescue, has chronic short-term memory loss. The “reason” for this is not revealed, as the film unconventionally does not medicalize or otherwise attribute a cause for disability. Dory’s chronic condition causes pitfalls, yet she can also read written English and speak whale, and due to her openly sociable personality and penchant for adventure, Dory initiates communication with many other species that results in progress for the journey. Dory assumes agency in the plot, can remember through adaptive problem solving when it is vitally crucial, and displays her “abnormality” as comical charm. Further, she professes an overall consciousness for the film that life is inevitably a series of obstacles, as well as opportunities for adventure, and that one must, as Dory joyfully expresses in her repeated slogan, “keep on swimming.” In addition, she and Marlin meet sea turtles that are more than150 years old, but hardly suffer from their age—they ironically speak in the tongue of youthful beach bums, referring to Marlin as “dude” as they lead the duo to Sydney. Marlin proves emotionally disabled by the traumatic loss of his wife and chronic anxiety; vegetarian-aspiring sharks undergo a 5-step program; and in the Sydney fish tank, Nemo meets a very motley, some might call neurotically ill, group, including Gurgle (Austin Pendleton), a royal gamma obsessed with germ-free cleanliness and Deb (Vicki Lewis), a white humbug damsel fish who routinely misrecognizes herself in reflection from the tank wall as an imaginary twin sister, Flo. Their leader fish, Gill (Willem Dafoe), like Nemo, came from the sea, longs to return, and is physically distinguished—marked by scars. Also like Nemo, this trademark signifies wisdom, “street” smarts, and rites of passage. All of the remarkable, “abnormal,” even freakish characters in “Finding Nemo” swim with and against the undertow, and neither “overcome” their so-called physical and intellectual “problems,” nor prevail “in spite of” them, as conventional narrative and stereotypes would prescribe. And in graphic illustration, they far exceed even two dimensions.
However, these aspects are greatly overlooked in the film, perhaps poignantly asserting the film’s largely unprecedented progressiveness. After all, more classic animated fairytales have been known for their dubious, and sometimes publicly criticized sexist and ethnocentric biases. The princesses are stolen property, properly saved and wed, while evil characters are laden with non-Western, non-white stereotypes. Further, malice is often embodied in physically “deformed,” and otherwise visually “abnormal” characters, marked, like Nemo, by displayable difference and often specifically placed on display to provide a counter-example to “normal.” By contrast, “Finding Nemo” brings elements of social and cultural diversity to life in educational marine biology lessons of visually distinguishable, sometimes competing, yet non-hierarchical species. One would have a difficult time differentiating which kinds of bodies are on display in this splendid spectacle, and to what significance. “Finding Nemo’s” success may have to do with its refreshing nature and escape from the typical good versus evil dichotomies in favor of flavorful cultural relativism. “Other” fish populate the sea. Nemo’s disability, visually defined by his unique fin, affects, yet does not dictate his daily life, and initiates moments of joy and self-discovery. “Finding Nemo” becomes an act of rescue, maturation, and acceptance of self and others for all the characters. Marlin learns to trust Nemo and his self-defined abilities, as prescriptive stereotypes of disability are tested and disproved and the protagonist’s triumph is enabled.
Doraemon, the Japanese Robotic Cartoon Cat Without Ears
The following link contains an article about a Japanese robotic cat cartoon, named Doraemon, who has no ears, but is very brave helping portray courage and respect for elders wherever he goes. In the below article, Doraemon is enlisted as an ambassador by Japan’s foreign minister, Masahiko Komura.
The series is about an earless robotic cat named Doraemon, who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a schoolboy named, Nobita Nobi. A majority of Doraemon episodes are comedies with lessons regarding values such as integrity, perseverance, courage, family and respect for elders. Several noteworthy environmental issues are often visited, including homeless animals, global warming, endangered species, deforestation, and pollution. Miscellaneous educational topics such as dinosaurs, the flat Earth theory, wormhole traveling, Gulliver’s Travels, and the history of Japan are often covered.
Doraemon was awarded the Japan Cartoonists Association Award for excellence in 1973. Doraemon was awarded the first Shogakukan Manga Award for children’s manga in 1982, and the first Osamu Tezuka Culture Award in 1997. In March 2008, Japan’s Foreign Ministry appointed Doraemon as the nation’s first “anime ambassador.” Ministry spokesman explained the novel decision as an attempt to help people in other countries to understand Japanese anime better and to deepen their interest in Japanese culture.” The Foreign Ministry action confirms that Doraemon has come to be considered a Japanese cultural icon. In 2002, the anime character was acclaimed as an Asian Hero in a special feature survey conducted by Time Asia magazine.
* The above paragraph providing Doraemon’s description is sourced from Wikipedia and can be accessed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doraemon
An Example of Bullying
A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take out a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry, but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.
Below is a touching story of a young man named Jim who recalls being bullied during his life. This young man had Microtia.
- Sourced from the website: http://www.microtia.org.uk/forum
“Post by jim herting » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:06 pm
I was born with rightside unilateral Microtia and as a consequence, suffered the usual bullying,name calling,spitefull remarks that you would expect from children during my school years.
A lot of the time other children would just stare and others would ask others what’s wrong with that boys ear? Well that wasn’t so bad, and if they actually asked me, then I would tell them all I could.
However…. others saw it as a sign of weakness and would use it daily to ridicule me and knock my self confidence severly!!
I never did extremly well at school but got by with the help of a few close friends who saw me for ME and not my disability 🙂
I never socialised much with others outside of school hours and stuck close to my few good friends doing what schoolkids do best.
By the time I had left school, I had never had a girlfriend or much to do with the oppersite sex at all due mainly to my lack of self confidence brought on mainly by the bullying at school, nowadays it wouldn’t be tolerated but 15 years ago was a different story!!(at least for me.)
A year or so later I started enquiries into having an operation to correct the Microtia and after initial consultations etc, I finally got to go to Mount Vernon hospital in Middlesex to see Mr David Gault who was one of, if not THE leading surgeon in the UK 😀
Eventually after 5 years from start to finish , I had the operation which was done in I think three stages(maybe two) and during the rib cartillidge removal stage-they ripped the lung membrane which was quite common aparrently!!
Since the op, and in the coming year or so-my self confidence SOARED!!! 😀 and I ended up a few years later meeting the one who I’m now engaged to and we have three kids together 🙂
I can’t help thinking that if it wasn’t for Mr Gault and his team, I would still be quiet,under confident and still single 🙄
I owe him so much as do other members on this forum.
The below statement comes from a white paper entitled “Congenital Ear Abnormalities (microtia): Position Paper ENT UK 2010” that is published by:
The ENT @ UK at The Royal College of Surgeons of England
35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London WC2A 3PE
Tel: 020 7404 8373 Fax: 020 7404 4200
Email: email@example.com Web: www.entuk.org
“Impact of the abnormality”
A congenital ear abnormality affects both the child and the family of the child. When a child with a congenital ear abnormality is born, the problem causes great concern, anxiety and indeed distress to the parents. As a child becomes older he or she develops an awareness of self-image, and a desire to be ‘normal’. Teasing and bullying are a well recognised phenomenon in children with congenital ear abnormalities and are often a motivation to seek surgery. Such an abnormality can have a negative impact upon a child’s psycho-social behaviour. 3 In the majority of cases children with microtia have reduced hearing, and this may also affect their educational performance and possibly their safety. 4,5″
ENT UK trading as British Academic Conference in Otolaryngology (BACO) and British Association of Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery (BAO-HNS)
Registered as a Company limited by Guarantee in England and Wales under Company No 06452601
Registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales under Charity No 1125524
Below is another video talking about bullying because of having Microtia. Also, please note under the video screen…an adult with Microtia made the following comment which just brought me to tears:
“Im so glad and God blessDr. Arturo Bonilla for helping allthose little kids! Im 35 yrs.Old and trust me I did suffer a lot of bully and up to this date I suffer from depression.”
Dr. Arturo Bonilla is an expert Rib Graft ear reconstruction surgeon for Microtia. Dr. Bonilla is the founder of the Microtia Congenital Ear Deformity Institute, www.microtia.net
Boy Born Without Ears Receives Gift of Sound
Diego Neumaier Ortiz, a 12-year-old boy born with deformed ears, can finally hear, thanks to a doctor’s gift.
By Kathryn Hawkins. Posted on October 11 2010
Diego Neumaier Ortiz, a 12-year-old boy from Puebla, Mexico, was born with a condition called microtia, which left his ears almost completely undeveloped. Even with a hearing aid, sound was almost completely muffled for the young boy.
So Diego threw himself into a sport where he didn’t need to be conscious of his teammates’ calls: gymnastics. He learned to master the arts of vaulting, balance bars, and backflips. Recently, he became the junior gymnastics champion in all of Mexico. A visiting American doctor was watching from the bleachers, amazed by the child’s skill. He also noticed that Diego was deaf—and thought that something could be done to fix that.
The doctor contacted a well-known specialist in ear reconstruction, Dr. John Reinisch. He offered to take Diego’s complicated case for no charge.
In the operation, Dr. Reinisch and another surgeon, Dr. Joseph Roberson, created an outer ear for cosmetic purposes, then drilled a hole to access the inner ear and build an ear canal. The operation took nine hours, and the ear would require two weeks to heal.
When the doctors finally pulled back the gauze on Diego’s new ear, his mother praised the good work they had done. That was the first time Diego had heard her voice.
In return for the gift of hearing, Diego presented the doctors with a present of his own: his championship medals for his gymnastics wins.
“I don’t have anything to give them, but this is so valuable to me,” Diego told CBS. “I want to give them to Dr. Reinisch, because he is giving me something greater: two ears.”
Man Born With No Ears Qualifies for the American Idol Show With His Voice
Ramiro Garcia Sings “Amazing Grace” During the American Idol Season for Houston, TX Auditions held on January 26, 2012. Ramiro Garcia was born without ears, but he had several corrective surgeries. Doctors thought he would never hear, but his “Amazing Grace” cover wins over the judges and he earns a golden ticket.
Cited by Blake Wilford (American Idol, January 26, 2012) and Mike Larkin (Mail Online, January 27, 2012)
It seemed like Ramiro Garcia would be forced to learn sign language to communicate after being born with no ears. Doctors told his parents he would probably be deaf and dumb, but successful surgery allowed him to unlock the singer within, and he wowed the judges on American Idol tonight. His rousing version of Amazing Grace won universal praise from the judges, who had no hesitation sending him through at the Houston, Texas edition of the show. Steven Tyler said: ‘You know what man, I like what I’m hearing, I like your insight as well. ‘You are a power of example to say the least, and you can sing. I’m happy with you man.’ Stunned Randy Jackson simply said: ‘I love what you did.’ And Jennifer Lopez told him: ‘We are taking a leap of faith with you today.’ The 19-year-old worship leader was later seen running through the door into the arms of his family holding his approval letter. His father wept as he explained what the family had gone through as he grew up. He said: ‘I remember when the doctors say he no speak, he no hear. I am happy now.’ The joyful moment was all the more remarkable after he explained his story. He said: ‘Growing up was tough. I wasn’t born normal, I came out a bit different. I came out with no ears. ‘There was nothing at my left ear, and on my right there was just an earlobe. ‘They thought I was going to be mute and not able to speak,’But I had an inner ear canal and they discovered an ear drum and that there was a possibility I could hear. Beaming: Jennifer was overjoyed at Ramiro’s stunning performance of Amazing Grace on the show Gob-smacked: Steven Tyler and hunky Randy Jackson were also visibly touched by his performance ‘I remember going for another surgery and another surgery. It was intense.’ It was a fine way to end an episode that at one stage appeared to be descending into farce. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2092540/Americal-Idol-2012-auditions-Ramiro-Garcia-born-ears-sent-Hollywood.html#ixzz1km34gh1g