According to the report, surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center created the new ear by harvesting cartilage from Pvt. Shamika Burrage's ribcage and then inserting it beneath the skin on her arm, allowing the ear to grow and develop new blood vessels.
"The whole goal is by the time she's done with all this: it looks good, it's sensate, and in five years if somebody doesn't know her they won't notice," chief plastic surgeon Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III said in the report released Monday. "As a young active-duty soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get."
"[The ear] will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she'll be able to feel it," the surgeon added.
Burrage lost her ear in 2016 at the age of 19 when a tire on the car she was driving from Mississippi to Fort Bliss, Texas, suddenly blew out, causing the vehicle to flip several times before she was ejected from it. Also in the car was her cousin, who was eight months pregnant.
"I was coming back from leave and we were around Odessa, Texas," Burrage explained in the report. "We were driving and my front tire blew, which sent the car off road and I hit the brake. I remember looking at my cousin, who was in the passenger seat; I looked back at the road as I hit the brakes. I just remember the first flip and that was it."
Though her cousin only suffered minor injuries, Burrage wasn't so lucky. The report states that in addition to losing her ear, she suffered head injuries, compression fractures in the spine and extensive abrasions from the asphalt.
After going through months of rehab, Burrage, who wasn't feeling comfortable with her looks, decided to speak with a surgeon regarding her ear options. Uncertain about the procedure at first, Burrage ultimately decided to go ahead with the total ear reconstruction.
"I didn't want to do [the reconstruction], but gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it could be a good thing," Burrage said in a statement. "I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring, but I wanted a real ear."
"It's been a long process for everything, but I'm back," she added.
Burrage has just two more surgeries to go before reconstruction is officially done.