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Girl Who Grew Her Own Ear to Be Featured on ‘Today’

The plucky 12-year-old who was disfigured after she was mauled by a raccoon as an infant won Michigan’s heart two years ago; now, she has claimed the world’s heart as well.

Charlotte Ponce, shown here before surgery to attach the new ear she grew under her skin for three months, will be featured on NBC's "Today" show Saturday, July 19. Then she'll likely head home. (Photo submitted)
Charlotte Ponce, shown here before surgery to attach the new ear she grew under her skin for three months, will be featured on NBC's "Today" show Saturday, July 19. Then she'll likely head home. (Photo submitted)

You don’t need to whisper in Charlotte Ponce’s new ear that Michiganders have flat-out fallen in love with her.

That was established two years ago, when she had the first of a string of reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage to her face after pet raccoon crawled into her crib and chewed off her ear, lip, nose and much of her face.

The plucky 12-year-old has leapt into the world’s heart as well.

One measure is the millions of results that pop up when her name is typed into a Google search field – a number that made increase exponentially after this weekend.

Earlier this week, a crew from NBC’s “Today” show stopped by her room at Royal Oak’s Beaumont Hospital, where she is recovering from last week’s surgery to attach a new ear she grew from cartilage carved from her rib, to shoot a segment that will air Saturday. 

The show will air at 8 a.m. Watch it locally on WDIV, Channel 4.

Charlotte handled the interview like a seasoned pro and bonded with the crew, her adoptive mother, Sharon Ponce, told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press.

“It should be a really nice show,” said Sharon, who along with her husband, Tim, took custody of Charlotte when her biological parents lost custody of her and her brother after the raccoon attack, then legally adopted them.

Charlotte has had so many surgeries that her parents can’t keep track of them all, but Sharon Ponce said the surgery on July 10 – performed only two other times –  was the most painful yet, reducing her daughter to tears as she recovered.

Charlotte’s reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, carved the ear structure from rib cartilage in April, then inserted it under her forearm, where the skin molded into an ear shape.

As Charlotte recovers, the outpouring of public support has been overwhelming, Sharon Ponce said.  The family created a Friends of Charlotte Rose Facebook page so people can keep track of her progress and offer words of encouragement.

As her recovery takes place on a world stage, Charlotte hasn’t been forgotten by people closer to her part-time home at the hospital in Royal Oak.

One of the latest magnanimous gestures comes from the Miner's Den Jewelers, a custom jewelry store in Royal Oak. When Katie Fern, whose family owns the store, heard Charlotte was looking forward to wearing new earrings when her ear has healed, they put together a special gift that will be delivered later, WBJK, Channel 2, reports.

At the same time, the television station urged others who want to show support in some way to send their well wishes or gifts directly to her at Charlotte Ponce, P.O. Box 397, Fruitport, MI 49415.

Charlotte may be released from the hospital Saturday, her mother said, but they’ll watch the “Today” show before heading back to the family’s home in Spring Lake.
Bernadette July 19, 2014 at 01:05 PM
That's great that modern medicine can repair the girl's face to such a degree. A raccoon or other wild animal chewing off part of a baby's body has occurred several times in the past. Why aren't people more aware of this? Warnings should be discussed with pregnant women in OBY-GYN offices.
sonia stewart July 20, 2014 at 10:30 AM
Even a domesticated pet can cause irreparable damage. I've had pet parrots, a dog and a cat around my children as infants and toddlers and have had them all running around free in the house, but I'd never leave them alone in a room together. Apparently so many don't have any common sense, so I guess you have to warn them about everything, although many times the reason they're pregnant is because they had no common sense.

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