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Doctors grow new ear on woman's arm [photos]

Posting in Cancer

As odd as it looked, Sherrie Walters certainly didn't mind that she had a human ear growing on her forearm. That's because once the body part was ready to be harvested, it would help to replace what cancer had took.

In 2008, after discovering an aggressive cancer in her ear, doctors had little choice but to surgically remove a large swatch of tissue from her face, including a large section of her ear. John Hopkins University reconstructive surgeon Dr. Patrick Byrne heard about Walters' case and devised a procedure in which he would borrow cartilage from the rib area to stitch together a replacement ear. He decided to implant it beneath her forearm, where it can safely grow over a period of months.

Once it was ready, Byrne re-attached the ear and connective blood vessels. A second surgery was performed to improve the shape and add detail to the ear.

"I thought of this exact strategy many years before and really was looking for the right patient to try it on," Byrne told a local CBS News affiliate in Baltimore.

Walters has since regained her hearing thanks to a special hearing aid. Though the progress her and the medical staff have made is already quite remarkable, Byrne believes a few more procedures would be all that's unnecessary before the final result would be a normal-looking ear.

Throughout the process, Walters' and her husband has kept a sense of humor about it all.

“We started making jokes just to try to get used to it and I was like, `Can you hear me? Can you hear me?’ Walters, told CBS News.

via -- WJZ-TV (CBS)

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— By on September 27, 2012, 8:30 PM PST

Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure