Florida Keys

This 8-year-old girl is getting a new ear, and then will have it pierced

Caidyn Young will soon undergo the first of three surgeries on her right ear.
Caidyn Young will soon undergo the first of three surgeries on her right ear. Contributed

Having an abnormally small right ear doesn’t bother 8-year-old Caidyn Young.

The Marathon girl was born that way with microtia, a condition that causes one or both ears to be underdeveloped. With help from the Marathon Shrine Club, she’ll soon undergo three reconstructive surgeries for a new ear and eventually will have her ears pierced like she’s always wanted.

Marathon Shrine Club President Chris Clauss ran into Caidyn’s mother Chris Todd Young at Kirk of the Keys Presbyterian Church in Marathon last spring. The church had donated $500 to the club’s transportation fund and Clauss and Young started discussing the ways money is used. The transportation fund covers travel expenses to doctor visits for kids like Caidyn to have surgery.

“We’re a Shrine Club but we are part of the Mahi Shrine Center in Miami and we got the transportation set up for her to go get an evaluation in Cincinnatti, Ohio, in July of last year,” Clauss said.

So Chris and her husband Eric took Caidyn to see Dr. Ann Schwentker at the Shriners Hospital for Children. The surgery is paid for by the hospital.

“She communicated really well with Caidyn,” said Chris Todd Young, who said one in 8,000 children are born with microtia.

The Cincinnati hospital has a unit where reconstructive surgeries are performed mainly for children who have been burned, but they also perform microtia surgery.

Over the course of three operations, doctors will use Caidyn’s rib cartilage and skin grafts from the back of her head to create a new ear to emulate the left ear, she said.

The first procedure in February will take about eight hours and she’ll be in recovery for two weeks prior to the other surgeries, which involve more grafting. Depending on how the initial surgery goes, Caidyn could possibly have an inner ear-canal surgery that would help her gain hearing in the ear, where she has almost none.

Asked if she’s nervous, Caidyn said, “Yeah, just a little bit,” but she’ll have the comfort of two teddy bears given to her by both the Shrine Club and the Keyettes Women's Auxiliary in Marathon.

She’s looking forward to having her ears pierced by Schwentker after full recovery, something promised to her by the surgeon. Then she’ll get to wear the blue sapphire earrings she received for Christmas, she said.

“When you see us standing at the intersection collecting, all that money goes to our transportation fund,” Clauss said of fundraising efforts by the Marathon Shrine Club and the Keyettes for children like Caidyn.

“Caidyn is a very vibrant and beautiful young girl. She’s like the perfect little girl,” Clauss said. “Kirk of the Keys, had they not donated that $500, who knows if anything would have gotten done.”

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219