ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A beautiful little girl, Charlotte Ponce, is teaching everyone a lesson in courage and hope. Saturday was a very special day for the girl, who proves that beauty is on the inside.
"You don't have to be perfect," Charlotte says. "Just rock what you got."
There were cheers and tears inside Charlotte's hospital room at Beaumont in Royal Oak on Saturday. All eyes were on the television as "Today Show" correspondent Andrea Canning gave Charlotte a pair of earrings.
She will soon be able to wear them because she has a new ear.
"I can finally wear dangly ones," Charlotte said.
Wearing sunglasses or earrings is something that most of us take for granted. But when Charlotte was a baby a raccoon attacked her, destroying her nose, lip and ear.
Sharon and Tim Pone, Charlotte's great aunt and uncle, adopted Charlotte and found hope in the form of Beaumont doctor Kongkrit Chaiyasate.
"I went on my husband's smartphone and searched 'pediatric surgeons in Michigan," Sharon said. "Wa-laaa!"
That quick search changed Charlotte's life. For two years and multiple surgeries, Dr. Chaiyasate built a nose and a lip for the little girl. The next step was building an ear.
The doctor took Charlotte's rib cartilage, forming it into an ear and letting it grow skin under her forearm.
The ear was attached this week thanks to this simply amazing medicine.
"We made it," Chaiyasate said. "Two years journey. She got what she came for. She wanted ear, she wanted nose. I gave her everything that she wished. I'm done."
Watching Charlotte share her story on national television brought tears to her parents' eyes.
"Because she's my daughter and I really love her," Tim Ponce said. "A lot."
Charlotte says she feels beautiful now inside and out. The surgeries are over and she has plans for the rest of her young life.
"Probably get a boyfriend," she said.
Chaiyasate says that sending Charlotte home to west Michigan on Saturday was his finest day as a doctor in 20 years.
You've followed Charlotte every step of her journey – if you want to send her some well wishes:
PO Box 397
Fruitport, MI 49415