A Kiribati boy who came to Taiwan for surgery to reconstruct his missing ears will soon return home after nearly nine months of successful treatment at Taipei's Mackay Memorial Hospital.
A farewell party was held yesterday at the hospital for nine-year-old Teuea Kautabea before his departure next Sunday.
Both of the boy's ears were bitten off by wild dogs in November 2007 as he tried to protect his own pet dog from the attack.
After the Kiribati embassy approached Mackay Memorial Hospital about medical assistance for the boy, arrangements were made for him to arrive in Taiwan on Jan. 10 for autologous reconstruction procedures.
Tung Kuang-yi (董光義), the head of the hospital's department of plastic surgery, said the procedures involved harvesting rib cartilage from the boy and shaping the tissues into a framework for the new ears, which were then transplanted temporarily into his arms and allowed to grow.
The tissues were later removed from the patient's arms and transplanted onto his head, Tung said.
Two months later, another procedure was performed to give Kautabea's new ears a more authentic shape, Tung said.
Shih Shou-chuan, the hospital's deputy superintendent, said Kautabea will not have to undergo any other ear surgery or treatment because the new ears are permanent appendages.
However, the hospital will continue to monitor his condition after he returns to Kiribati, Shih said.
During his stay in Taiwan, Kautabea was given accommodation and language lessons by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the hospital said.
The boy can now speak simple Mandarin Chinese, with the first Mandarin words he learned being hao tong (it hurts), the hospital said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添), who also attended yesterday's party, said Kautabea's case showed that Taiwan's devotion to medical diplomacy would eventually spread the compassion and enthusiasm of Taiwanese to every corner of the world.