I was born in 1979 with microtia. Since my birth my parents have tried to get the best surgeon to fix my birth defect. Being from Los Angeles, it shouldn’t have been that hard to fix, well…it was. By the time I was six years old and the surgery could be performed. I was very scared to have surgery, so I just didn’t have it done. I endured years of people’s stares and question asking. Unfortunately I did have a few people call me names which hurt my feelings when I was younger.
I have had a hard life. At thirteen, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Then at thirty, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a complication associated with diabetes. I was in and out of the hospital due to the gastroparesis for several years. Then I was told a surgery may alleviate my gastroparesis and I may end up spending less time in the hospital in the long run. I was still very scared of having surgery but, I weighed my options. I ended up having the surgery and it wasn’t that big of a deal. So, then I decided that I would consider looking into getting my microtia fixed. That is when I found Dr. Russell Griffiths in Boise Idaho.
In the beginning of the summer of 2011 I started researching my different options for surgery. After careful consideration and discussions with Dr. Griffiths, I decided to go with the one stage rib graft surgery. The hardest part of the process was getting my insurance company to finally cover the procedure. My insurance company wanted no part in paying for this surgery. Thankfully Dr. Griffiths has the most amazing woman named Star Thomas who works with the insurance companies. After three months of jumping through hoops, she had my insurance company covering the whole cost of the procedure.
I talked to Dr. Griffiths and we chose the date of October 20th 2011 as the surgery date.
I live in Spokane Washington. So, my mother and I decided to make a trip out of this whole exciting life changing event. A few days before the procedure we drove to Boise. I had an appointment with Dr. Griffiths the day before the surgery. He took lots of pictures and made different templates of my soon to be new ear. Then he said, “okay Justin, we’ll see you in the morning for surgery.” He also told me that this was going to be a bit of a difficult surgery for me because I am a type one diabetic. Healing was going to take a lot longer for me and complications may occur.
The next morning I arrived at St. Luke’s hospital for surgery. The surgery took a very long time. Dr. Griffiths had to take cartilage from my rib cage and skin grafts from the back of my scalp and existing ear. But, the hardest part of the surgery was that he had to connect the artery from my head down to my new ear. This way there would be good blood flow to my new ear. The older you get, the harder it is to find that artery and harder to get it to connect to the new ear. After 18 hours he was done. He took only one break!
I ended up waking up a day later in the ICU just because of my current health condition. I had some pain but not too much. I ended up spending a few days in the hospital until Dr. Griffiths was comfortable having me stay in my hotel room. I have been going to Dr. Griffith’s office every day for about two weeks now. I still have swelling and it still needs time to heal but, I have two ears now. I never thought in my wildest dreams I could ever make that statement. This is still just the middle of my journey and I would do it all over again if I had to.
If you have microtia, I would highly recommend this one stage surgery. This has changed my life. It will change yours too, I guarantee you. I was scared at first to have this surgery but, I am so happy now. I am so happy to have two ears. I waited 32 years for this ear!
Justin D. Scott