SPRING LAKE, Mich. — Wearing earrings is something many people take for granted but for Charlotte Ponce it’s a life long dream.
Charlotte, 12, from Spring Lake is back home after receiving a new ear nearly three weeks ago. Over the years, she’s had more than a dozen major surgeries after being attacked by a raccoon as an infant.
“I can finally where earrings once this is all done,” Charlotte said. “This is the jewelry that people sent me.”
While opening containers filled with silver and gold, Charlotte showed off her new studded and dangling earrings. All of which, are gifts from strangers across the world. In addition to the “bling,” Charlotte’s also received countless cards and well wishes from people reminding her of who she is.
“I’m beautiful, unique and brave,” Charlotte said.
Like everyone else, Charlotte’s ear is made of cartilage, except hers comes from her rib. After forming the cartilage into a mold, doctors then placed it into Charlotte’s forearm where it lived for several weeks. Once the skin grew to the mold it was removed and attached to the right side of Charlotte’s head.
Sharon Ponce, Charlotte’s mother, said while previous surgeries proved they had the support of their community, this go-around was overwhelming.
“People ask me all the time, ‘how do you thank people and thank the doctor?’ and all that, and I mean, there aren’t words,” Sharon Ponce said. “It means so much to me as a mom that other people care so much about my little girl.”
It also means a lot to Charlotte.
“It helps her to go through it knowing that so many people are watching and caring about hat she’s going through,” Sharon Ponce said.
In the weeks to come, Charlotte is expected to undergo a skin graft. However, Sharon said all major surgeries will be a thing of the past, which leaves Charlotte looking forward to the future.
“I have a bucket list,” Charlotte said.
When telling FOX 17 what’s on the list, she said, “get married, then have an only child.”
As for the amount of earrings arriving to Charlotte’s home she said it’s likely she’ll never have to go out and buy any.
“I have enough to last me, like, 20 years.”