South Africa

New ear for eight-year-old gives him the confidence to move forward

A Laerskool Stephanus Roos learner now feels complete after doctors have given him another ear through reconstructive surgery.

Zaylen Huysamen (8) was born with microtia, a deformity of the outer ear where the ear does not fully develop. This usually occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The eight-year-old was diagnosed with stage three, the most common type of microtia, in which the only feature remaining is a small, peanut-shaped remnant ear lobe.

While living with it had not been a problem, it had a psychological disadvantage, as children started teasing him over the deformity.

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Zaylen Huysamen with his mother Marizaan Boshoff.

His mother Marizaan Boshoff said that he would come home crying because kids at school would tell him “God took your ear because you were naughty”.

“It affected his self-esteem and he would come home sad. That caused me to fight with the teachers and school, feeling like they could have done more.”

While they had been to multiple specialists – even an audiologist – they could not be referred to a doctor who could do the operation. They were told nothing could be done.

When they finally found a doctor who specialised in reconstructive surgery and was willing to do the procedure, their medical aid refused to pay, as the boy had a working ear and it was classified as cosmetic surgery.

This was a temporary setback for the family, but it was short-lived as the doctor made an application to the Good Morning Angels and the Smile Foundation.

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After the first surgery.

“We received the news that our son was a good candidate and they would be willing to sponsor the operation.”

The process of microtia reconstruction using a tissue expander is performed in three stages. The first involves the implantation of a tissue expander, the second stage framework fabrication, using autologous costal cartilage and implantation in the pocket and the third stage involves tragus and concha reconstruction.

Zaylen started his reconstruction process in July, with the first process of expanding the tissue.

Boshoff explained the operation was done with the reconstruction of the rib cartilage, which is often used for children with ear conditions present at birth.

“In those cases, the surgery is usually done between ages 6 and 10. By that time, the ear has almost reached its adult size, and there’s enough rib cartilage available for the procedure.

“This approach involves two to four surgeries, depending on the technique a surgeon prefers to use.”

Thus far, two operations have been completed and Zaylen is scheduled for another soon.

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Before surgery.

“After he had fully recovered, he was ready to go back to school with a different kind of confidence that he did not have before.

“He is happy and excited and we are as well, knowing that he can feel like any other child now,” said Boshoff.

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