Replacement ear grown on an arm

A woman whose exterior ear was removed during her fight with cancer has grown a replacement ear made from starter-tissue harvested from her rib, which was cultured and scaffolded on her arm. Once the ear was ripe, it was removed from her arm and affixed to the side of her head.

“I thought of this exact strategy many years before and really was looking for the right patient to try it on,” said renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Patrick Byrne.

Byrne used cartilage from Walters’ ribs to stitch together a new ear matching her right ear. He then implanted it under the skin of her forearm, where it grew for months.

..Byrne later surgically attached the ear and its blood vessels. Then surgery Tuesday added shape and detail to the ear.

Hopkins Doctors Grow New Ear On Woman’s Arm (via /.)

(Image: Johns Hopkins)


  1. when i first heard it i thought “um i think you missed”
    but now its more like “that’s freaky” growing an arm on your arm that has to be weird…

    1. You just sent me down to the archives (i.e. a filing cabinet) with your comment.  I have a copy of a ‘zine called “Going Gaga,” in which there was a piece called “Dada Surgery.”  Examples:

      “Remember: There’s no tissue rejection when it’s your own body.”


      “Pointed up on the chin, an ear could be used to collect any spilled soup.”

      This was written by one Patch Adams, apparently the Patch Adams, and published by Gareth Branwyn who makes appearances ’round these parts.

  2. It was more disturbing when they first grew the mock human ear on a rat. Now if they grew a rat on his arm and a human  ear on the rat, that would freak people the fudge out.

    But growing an ear of corn would also be pretty good. 

      1. You got an elastic band?! You bleed’n toff!! When we wuz wee kiddies we ‘ad our ears stuck on wif roof’n tar and we thought it was @#$’n Christmas day!


  3. At first I thought, “Why the arm?  You use and move those all the time–that seems unnecessarily inconvenient.”  Then I tried to think of a better place to put it and failed.

      1.  If you need a new ear, your current ear probably has a partially funtional ear or a whole lot of scar tissue.

      2. You have tight skin on your head, so that’s awkward. They’d have to stretch it with a subdermal baloon first, and that’s painful and long, and doesn’t help the bloodflow.

        Then you’d have this half-formed lump on the side of your face out where you can’t put a long sleave over it or conveniently bandage it, for the weeks it takes to fully develop. Which is socially awkward to say the least, and from the looks of things bandaging is necessary.

        And as mentioned, if you need a new ear, your existing ear-place has a damaged substrate by definition.

  4. I literally just finished eating when I saw this. Please PayPal me like $10 to cover a “recovery” meal, okay? Thanks!

    1. I thought of the mouse too, but it appears that this ear is actually just a bunch of other tissues surgically assembled into the shape of an ear rather than a genuine clone-job. Still very impressive though.

  5. Seriously though, grafted penises should be popular both for the transgendered, reconstruction after various forms of reconstruction after accidents and cancer, and general slapstick.

    1. Absolutely, but there’s a lot more to a penis (or a vulva and vagina) than an ear. All that enervated tissue for one, and the spongy erectile tissue isn’t cartilage, it’s actually some comparatively elaborate stuff. But this is a big step forward for that.

      I know somewhere in east europe actually already did a “first draft” of growing a replacement penis for a man with cancer under the skin of his flank IIRC. If I recall the article correctly, it wasn’t really going to be fully functional, and his wife found the whole growth process very disturbing and moved out before the surgery. He was hoping she’d move back in afterwards.

  6. My immediate first thought was Mr/Mrs Garrison from South Park when he had his new penis grown on a mouse and the mouse ran away. Of course there’s always, “Is that a penis growing on your arm or are you just happy to see me?” 

  7. It doesn’t look very, ah good..  But very kewl.. Now all they need to do is replicate the pieces inside and we might have a cure for deafness? Ya think?

    1. There are other groups approaching that problem (problems, really, several different points of failure between ye olde sounde waves and the brain); but the ones working on cartilage farming and reconfiguration are probably not the ones you want either attempting to repair the sensory structures in your cochlea or electronically twiddle your nerves to replace its function…

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