Jaysen was four years old when a friend’s dog lunged off a couch toward him, biting off part of his right ear.
Brooke will never forget the frantic 911 call that followed, and climbing into an ambulance with her frightened son. The paramedic insisted Jaysen go to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for treatment, rather than the hospital that was closer to their home.
“He knew that would be the place for him,” Brooke said. “I could never have known at the time how right that decision was.”
Because of the type of injury, Jaysen needed reconstructive surgery to rebuild his ear. Dr. Akira Yamada, a plastic surgeon at Lurie Children’s and a professor of plastic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is renowned worldwide for his work on ear deformities. He has traveled internationally to teach and perform pediatric ear reconstruction surgery.
Brooke said she and her son met Dr. Yamada once they arrived at Lurie Children’s. Jaysen would need surgery right away to reform his ear. Brooke said she was stunned when Dr. Yamada explained that he could reform her son’s ear using his own rib cartilage and skin graft from his head. After it healed, his ear would look just like it did before.
The news was a relief to the worried mom.
“My first thought was ‘this little boy would live the rest of his life without an ear,’” Brooke said. “I didn’t even know this type of surgery was possible or would be an option for him until we met Dr. Yamada.”
When he performs auricular construction surgeries, Dr. Yamada works carefully to ensure he retains the natural curve of the ear. In Jaysen’s case, he used the boy’s uninjured ear as a guide for reconstructing the part of the second ear that sustained the dog bite.
He employs a process that involves retrieving rib cartilage, constructing a two-layer partial cartilage framework and then affixing the framework to the existing part of the injured ear. He harvests a temporoparietal fascia flap, and after ensuring the cartilage is shaped to have the curve of a natural ear, covers it with the fascia flap, which gives blood supply to the cartilage graft. Before ending surgery, Dr. Yamada places gauze to stabilize the fascia to the cartilage and prevent blood collection underneath. The gauze is usually removed by two weeks after surgery, as the site continues to heal on its own.
It has been four years since Jaysen, now eight, had his first surgery with Dr. Yamada. In February, he underwent a second surgery to perfect the appearance of his ear. Dr. Yamada and Dr. Arun Gosain, Division Head of Plastic Surgery at Lurie Children’s and professor of pediatric plastic surgery at Northwestern University School of Medicine, performed the surgery.
Brooke said she is thrilled about Jaysen’s progress and appearance after the procedures. And she knows when she has questions or concerns, Dr. Yamada will email or call her back quickly.
“Drs. Gosain and Yamada have been there for me and Jaysen every step of the way,” Brooke said, adding “there have been no complications. Even Jaysen will look at himself in the mirror and say ‘this looks good! You can’t even tell something happened, mom.’”
The best part is Jaysen is now back to his athletic lifestyle – he loves hockey, baseball and rollerblading – with only a minor scar on his head. Brooke said she will never forget the expertise and compassion she found at Lurie Children’s.
“I never expected such a great outcome,” said Brooke. “Being in a traumatic situation like that, things happen quickly and you don’t have time to do research and choose a surgeon. We just got so lucky.”
Learn more about the Division of Plastic Surgery