They may look cute and fuzzy, but raccoons can turn vicious in a flash. And no one knows that better than one little girl.
Charlotte Ponce was an infant when she was attacked in her crib by the raccoon her parents kept as a pet.
Yes, as crazy as it sounds, a pet raccoon.
Ponce's entire nose and right ear were ripped off. That was a decade ago.
Ponce is now 12. She has a new nose, grafted by cosmetic surgeon Kongkrit Chaiyasate using skin from her arm and forehead.
It was time for Ponce to get a new ear. To start the process, first Dr. Chaiyasate removed a piece of cartilage from Ponce's ribs. He actually practiced building the ear using a potato.
Dr. Chaiyasate explained, "The texture is similar to cartilage."
Then he implanted the cartilage under Ponce's arm so that skin could develop around the cartilage framework. You could actually see the outline of the ear through the skin of her forearm.
After several weeks of growth, Ponce was ready for surgery at the Beaumont Children's Hospital near Detroit.
It was no surprise what she wanted when she got the new ear.
When asked, Ponce replied, "Earrings."
Dr. Chaiyasate used a ruler to carefully measure the position of her left ear, wanting to make certain both ears are aligned.
Ponce was then wheeled to the operating room. But not without a good luck kiss from her aunt and uncle first. They adopted Ponce after her parents lost custody following the raccoon attack.
Her aunt said, "She wants to be normal."
The cartilage was removed from her arm and then re-attached to the side of her head.
After eight hours, Dr. Chaiyasate had good news. And several weeks later, Ponce returned for a checkup. Now, the ear is healing nicely.
After all she's been through, it's good to see this little lady smile again.