Friday, October 12, 2007
Cyprus-born Stelios Arcadiou, known as Stelarc, says his extra ear, made of human cartilage, is an augmentation of the body's form.
But surgeons questioned whether such an operation should have been carried out, given the absence of clinical need.
A patient who had similar surgery to correct a birth defect said she found the artist's work offensive.
He views this as art but I personally find it offensive
Sasha Gardner, who was born with one ear missing
Stelarc, aged 61, said it had taken him years to find a surgeon prepared to perform the operation.
The ear does not function, but he hopes to have a microphone implanted to allow others to listen to what his extra ear picks up.
He presented his work to a UK audience at Newcastle's Centre for Life.
Reality TV star and model Sasha Gardner was born with one ear missing and recently took the first steps to have plastic surgery to rebuild the ear.
She said: "He views this as art but I personally find it offensive. It is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people.
"This is not something people should be using as an expression of art. It shows a lack of understanding."
Mr Francis Wells is a surgeon at Papworth Hospital who has helped an artist make a map of "The Sonic Body", by revealing its sounds, from veins to organs and muscles.
He said: "This will provoke a reaction. I would not condemn him for it, but it could cause some people distress.
"There are a lot of people who have lost an ear in an accident who cannot easily have that ear replaced. This type of reconstruction is expensive."
Mr David Gault, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said surgery is normally performed for obvious clinical or psychological benefit.
"Patients have had ears moved onto the forearm and then grafted on to the head before, so this is not something that is technically new.
"It is also possible that the publicity will do some good - if it prompts patients who are missing an ear to seek help that they had not realised was available."
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