Ear surgery builds Ethan’s confidence

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A SHEFFIELD boy who was born without his right ear has undergone pioneering surgery to build him a new one – using cartilage from his ribs.

Ethan Giles-Bowman, aged nine, has a rare congenital condition which affects the structure of his face. It means his right ear was originally little more than a lobe and he has no hearing on his right side.

Ethan used to wear his hair long in a bid to cover up the right side of his head. Now he is sporting a shorter new style – and a new-found confidence – after becoming one of the first people in the UK to undergo surgery to create an ear using cartilage taken from his ribs.

In April he will return to the London Royal Free Hospital for a follow-up procedure to complete the appearance. The operation was intense – six hours of surgery, six days in hospital and a month off school to recover. But mum Kathryn, aged 33, of St Andrew Road, Deepcar, said Ethan and the rest of the family – his dad Richard, brother Leigh, 13, and sister, Harley, one, were thrilled with the results.

“There were a few problems initially, mainly because it was a very invasive procedure and it resulted in Ethan having to put up with a lot of pain and discomfort. But now he is fantastic.

“He has had his hair cut shorter, whereas before he was hiding away underneath it, and although it’s not the right weather for it yet I’m sure once the summer comes he will be wearing a pair of sunglasses! It’s great for me and his dad to look at him and see him so happy and feeling so confident.”

The ear will not provide him with any hearing on his right side, though there is the potential for further treatment to fit a permanent hearing aid.

Kathryn added: “He has always managed quite well with one ear and investigations a couple of years ago found it wasn’t affecting him from an education point of view. There is the potential for something more in the future, though to be honest he likes to be in his own little world sometimes!”