Friday, December 23, 2016

Pincher Creek boy gets a new ear

Cayden Kellington
Toni Lucas - Cayden Kellington was born seven years ago and currently lives in Pincher Creek, Alberta.  He was born with the most of the internal working parts of his left ear and his ear lobe, but not the rest of the external ear on his left side.  He just had a lower lobe and a small hole to hear through.  He has now had a new ear built for him and surgically attached.  He is the youngest person in Alberta to have an ear built for him.

Cayden's mother Amanda Kellington explained the condition is called microtia, a condition that affects approximately one in every 8 000 to 10 000 babies born. "It just means 'little ear'.  There are four stages of microtia, and he has stage 3." she said, "Normally it happens to the right ear, but his is on his left.  It happens more to boys than girls, and it is not genetic.  They don't know what cases it."  The surgery will make little difference in his hearing on that side, however may affect him as he ages for his own self image, and in how others view him.

Cayden's new ear

Amanda  explained Dr. Ryan Frank was Cayden's plastic surgeon and has worked with Cayden for years.  Dr. Frank works in Calgary with the Alberta Children's Hospital, the microtia clinic, the cleft palate clinic, and does humanitarian plastic surgery in other countries as well as a range of typical cosmetic surgeries for adults. "He has been doing plastic surgery for over 15 years.  I think his passion is working with kids. Dr. Frank was really good with Cayden.  He wouldn't even do the surgery unless Cayden told him yes."

The surgery took place at the Alberta Children's Hospital over the course of seven hours on November 28. The hospital made a cast of his right ear more than a month before the surgery. He received a certificate for a portion of the procedure when they cast his right ear as 'The bravest and youngest' to go through the casting procedure they have done in Calgary.   Once the cast was made they made a mirror image to have a representation of his left ear for reference during the surgery.

The material they used to construct the external ear was taken from cartilage from Cayden ribs.  After the placement they stretch the skin over the newly created external ear.  Cayden faces at least one more surgery where additional parts will be inserted, and the top of the external ear will be opened and allowed to move away from the skull.  Right now the skin is just on the front of the upper external ear, holding that area of the ear closer to the skull than on most people.  The next procedure will be approximately a year from now.  This allows for healing time and for his doctor to monitor for rejection.

Amanda said that children now go through this procedure as young as between the ages of six to eight years old.  "To make sure their ribs are big enough for the surgery," One of the reasons for the choice of this age is they have a good understanding of the sizing of the ear.  "It is a little bit bigger than his other ear, to allow for growth.  At his age right now, your ears about 80% of the size they are going to be as an adult."

The whole family has had seven years to get ready for this surgery.  Amanda admits she stressed about the decision to do the surgery at all.  "Should we do this? Should we put him through this? Should we wait until he is older? Is he going to regret this? But he was excited."  She worried about the idea of her son under anesthetic for so many hours and she said is is disconcerting to see your child on morphine.  She recommends that if your child is going to go through a medical procedure you should educate yourself,  understand as much as possible of operation, and to ask questions to the doctor.  "I asked a lot of questions while we were there about the steps they would be taking."

She made sure the whole family knew what was going to happen to the best of her ability.  Cayden had to be most aware of every step in the process, and they would look up information on the internet together, including information available on the Alberta Children's Hospital website.  She believes this information is important for the child to know. "There's a lot of steps in this (operation and procedure). He's known about this his whole life, and he's been waiting for it." Even though the focus was the ear surgery, it has been his ribs that have caused the most pain.  "It was his ribs, more than anything else that was hurting him. His ear didn't seem to be bugging him.  It was itchy and he wanted to sleep on that side, (and cannot until after it has healed) but it was his ribs that hurt."

After surgery there were drainage tubes that had to be cleared regularly which created a suction which was painful to Cayden.  "If I didn't hold mom or dad's hand, it would have hurt."  He expressed being brave with both the surgery and sharing his story was important to him. Cayden got to take his stuffed animals Toothless, and Tiggy the tiger into the operating theatre with him for reassurance. Cayden explained even though Toothless is missing part of his tail, and never developed teeth, "He is the strongest dragon. They made him the king that controls all dragons."

Cayden explained his name means 'Spirit of battle'.  This was his first surgery ever, and he has been readying himself for it for his whole young life. "When I cough, my rib hurts." Amanda said he was really excited about it before the surgery was done but right now the pain is still very real.  He cannot sleep on that side because his ribs and ear are healing.  "I'm kind of mad that they're not going to open it," referring to his ear canal. Cayden has always had reduced hearing in that ear, but they do not want to possibly damage what hearing he does have in that ear.  He is hopeful that they can improve the hearing in in that ear in the future as technology develops.  When asked if he thought the procedure was worthwhile he responded, "I think so."

The movie 'Finding Nemo' has helped the family explain to other young children about his ear.  Amanda said,  "When he was really little and he would go into kindergarten with his brother, they would all ask about his ear. We just said it was his lucky ear, like Nemo's fin."

"One time someone said I didn't have an ear, but I did, and that kind of hurt my feelings." Along with family support and being able to identify with Nemo, Cayden has someone else to look to who even with microtia has not allowed reduced hearing to impact his life.  "The guy from Kiss, (Paul Stanley) has this too."  One thing he looks forward to is "Now my aviators (a brand of sunglasses) can go on."

One very special thing has not changed for Cayden.  "It actually is still my lucky ear."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous24/12/16

    Cayden did very well and we as great grandparents are very proud of and his courage.


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