- A six-year-old girl could become the
first person to grow an artificial ear using a controversial technique
developed by American scientists.
- Jade Harris, from Middlesbrough, Britain,
has only one ear after being born with the rare genetic disease, First
Arch syndrome, which causes bone deficiency.
- She is to travel to a Boston hospital
for preliminary tests and health checks. If she proves suitable for treatment,
scientists will grow the tissue in a dish in the laboratory.
- Jade's mother Karen Harris explained
the unique treatment to the BBC.
- "They take cells from some part
of the body, usually the arm, and they grow it in a dish for about six
weeks until it gets the basic shape. Then she goes back and they stitch
- But the technique - first seen when scientists
grew a human ear on the back of a mouse - has attracted criticism.
- Animal rights activists describe it as
cruel, while others have moral reservations about allowing scientists to
create life in any form.
- But for Jade and her mother the pioneering
surgery offers a chance of a more normal existence for a young girl already
too familiar with hospitals.
- "One of the reasons we're going
for this is that it's a maximum of two operations, whereas some of the
options open to her are about five or six operations, so they don't look
- "We're going for this one because
we already needs lots of other operations.
- "She's looking forward to going.
She wants her ear so she can have normal things. It doesn't affect life
a great deal, for her to be sad or withdrawn or anything like that. She's
outgoing, just like a normal six-year-old."
- The initial checks, which will take around
a week, will look at Jade's general health and see if she is strong enough
for the surgery. If she is deemed suitable for the operation, she will
return to Boston at a later stage.