Saskatchewan

Surgery possible for Arabella Carter, 4, little girl born without ears

Arabella Carter of Prince Albert, Sask, is a lively four-year-old with a big smile who likes Minnie Mouse and wearing pink, but there's something that sets her apart from other little girls — she has no ears.

Prince Albert family hoping to raise $90,000

Nolan, Arabella and Danielle Carter are keeping a positive outlook. The parents hope to raise $90,000 to cover surgery in the United States. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Arabella Carter of Prince Albert, Sask, is a lively four-year-old with a big smile who likes Minnie Mouse and wearing pink, but there's something that sets her apart from other little girls — she has no ears.

She was born without external ears (bilateral microtia is the technical name) and has to wear a bone-anchored hearing aid so the sound waves can be directed to her internal ears.

Her parents Danielle and Nolan Carter want her to undergo reconstructive surgery in the United States to give her a normal appearance.

Arabella Carter has only earlobes, having been born with a condition known as bilateral microtia. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

In Canada, the only option would involve sculpting ears out of material from two of her ribs, which would take four to seven surgeries.

Instead, they are considering going to the U.S. where her ribs wouldn't have to be taken out and it would require a smaller number of surgeries.

Under that option, ear reconstruction is done by creating a synthetic framework and the body's own tissue to create the ears.

Her condition is among a number of health issues Arabella has struggled with in her young life.  

In one way, financially, it's been tough on us but in the second way, you do what you have to do for your child.- Danielle Carter

Born prematurely, her first 72 days were spent in the hospital and when she came home, she was on oxygen. She has long had feeding issues and was tube-fed for first 2½ years of her life.

Being constricted with tubes meant she couldn't learn how to crawl like other babies and she didn't walk until she was two.

Some feared she would never be able to eat properly or talk, but she is working on overcoming her challenges. She's now in preschool and is undergoing speech therapy.

There have been many financial burdens for her parents and proposed surgery in the U.S. would add to that — it's expected to cost $90,000.

"In one way, financially, it's been tough on us but in the second way, you do what you have to do for your child," Danielle said.

The  "Ears for Arabella" campaign is selling bracelets to help raise some of the money. So far it's raised close to $10,000.

A Facebook page has been created in support of the effort.

With files from Ryan Pilon

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