(WJBK) - It's been almost 15 years since Charlotte Ponce was attacked by a raccoon that had somehow gotten into her house, room, and then her crib. Since then, she's endured multiple surgeries to rebuild her face and ears.
Ponce was 3 months old and in her crib with a bottle in 2002. Somehow, a raccoon entered the girl's crib and ate the right half of the girl's face off. She's undergone multiple surgeries - including one in 2014 where doctors removed cartilage from her ribs and put it into her arm so she could grow an ear.
Three years later, it's developing nicely, according to Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate from Beaumont.
"Her ear looks good. [There's a] nice shape of the ear," Dr. Chaiyasate said.
Sunday was Charlotte's 15th birthday and she says she's feeling good. She didn't get the news she wanted though - she still can't wear earings. For charlotte wearing earings is really a symbol for something much more significant, feeling whole and fitting in.
Her mom wrote last week that she was feeling down after getting that bad news. You can find the support page on Facebook here.
Charlotte is now recovering from another surgery where Dr. Chaiyasate moved skin to her nose to rebuild her nostril.
"The healing is doing well. What I did was I added tissue to the right nostril - actually it came from her left ear," Dr. Chaiyasate said.
While physical and emotional pain is evident, there's also progress. Her mom, Sharon, said that since the 2014 surgery, she's gained a lot more confidence.
"It's given her a lot more confidence. she started doing gymnastics right after she got her ear and she's done that for about four years. This year is the first time she's tried tennis. She's getting there," Sharon said.
After all her surgeries are done, Charlotte says she wants to be a biomechanical engineer so she can design prosthetics. For now, as she continues to grow, more surgeries will be required.