ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — Now that Charlotte Ponce has her ear, she's looking to accessorize.
"I can finally wear earrings," the 12-year-old said from her hospital bed in suburban Detroit.
Charlotte, whose face was mauled by a pet raccoon when she was a baby, is celebrating the completion of two years' worth of reconstructive surgical procedures.
Since August 2012, she has had her upper lip repaired, her nose rebuilt and been given a new right ear. She underwent skin graft surgery last week on the arm where her ear was harvested.
On Monday, Charlotte, her parents and the surgeon looked back on her journey.
"I kept my word. I told her we'd give her nose back, lip back and ear back, and so we did," Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, Charlotte's surgeon, told WXYZ-TV (http://bit.ly/1pWRrCO ).
The raccoon attacked Charlotte in 2002 in her crib while her biological parents lived in the western Michigan community of Ravenna. They were charged with owning a dangerous animal that caused serious injury and were placed on probation.
In 2005, the state terminated Charlotte's biological parents' parental rights. After that, Charlotte and her older brother Marshall were adopted by Sharon and Tim Ponce, their great-aunt and great-uncle.
The Ponces believe the raccoon, which later was destroyed, wanted Charlotte's bottle.
Charlotte will require a few follow-up operations to give her ear more definition. But now that the big reconstructive surgeries are behind her, she is ready to get back to playing soccer, swimming and doing gymnastics — and this worries Tim Ponce.
"Dad's afraid I'm going to break my neck one of these days while doing gymnastics," Charlotte said.
As for adorning her ear, Chaiyasate supplied his patient with a short-term fix.
During last week's procedure, the doctor surprised Charlotte by piercing her new ear and fashioning a makeshift earring from IV tubing.
Information from: WXYZ-TV, http://www.wxyz.com