The last thing Jared Galicia heard going into surgery Friday for his new ear was encouragement from his doctor.
“Don’t be scared. We’re gonna do this together,” Dr. Thomas Romo, director of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, told the 12-year-old from New Jersey.
What Jared didn’t hear was Romo’s promise during the three-hour operation to help jumpstart his confidence — and by extension his future love life.
“He’s a pretty shy kid, but I know he wants what everyone wants — a relationship,” Romo said afterward.
“I want him to find the love of his life and maybe be a grandfather one day. This will hopefully help provide him with that ego structure.”
Born with the rare condition Treacher Collins syndrome, Jared had no ears, only earlobes, when he first met with Romo more than a year ago. He’s also mostly deaf and depends on hearing aids.
“He has no ear canal. It’s like if you took a normal person and poured liquid bone down their ear canal,” Romo explained.
The plastic surgeon performed a procedure last year to give Jared a right ear.
Once he’s fully recovered, the student at the Union Street School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Hackensack, N.J., should be able to ditch the headband he wears to hold his hearing aids in place.
Thanks to the surgery, the hearing aids will be anchored in his new ears.
Jared’s condition is the same one at the center of the recent film “Wonder,” about a 10-year-old boy with Treacher Collins entering fifth grade. The hit movie stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay as the boy.
During the surgery, Romo painstakingly carved the new left ear out of cartilage taken from Jared’s ribs.
Removal of the rib cartilage was the hardest part, Romo said, because he and his team were working right over Jared’s heart and lungs — within a millimeter.
“All that is between you and the heart and lung is membrane,” Romo said.
Once the cartilage was extracted, Romo sliced away any extra tissue and began sculpting the new ear by bending and threading the cartilage together. The process took about an hour.
An incision where Jared’s ear should be was made, and the doctors inserted the carved ear under the boy’s skin.
The surgery, which was slated to take five hours, still had two hours to spare when the boy’s chest and ear were sewn back up. Operations like this could cost up to $ 50,000, but it was free for Jared thanks to Romo’s Little Baby Face Foundation, a charitable organization that gives free cosmetic surgery to children with facial deformities.
“It’s a pleasure and an honor to do this work,” said Romo, who has a private practice on E. 74th St.
“This kid is the sweetest boy,” he said.
In the operating room before the surgery, Jared was clearly nervous.
His mom, Sandra Jimenez, said the procedure wasn’t any easier the second time.
When Jared came out and the surgery was declared a success, his mother was smiling and tearing up in the post-op room.
“He’s fine and that’s it,” Jimenez said. “That’s the most important thing. We worry about it when he’s in there. We sat down and tried to rest, but we couldn’t.”
Romo said he plans to do more work with Jared as he goes through future growth spurts.
And he was thankful Jared was game to share his story.
“It gets the message out that there’s hope for other kids,” Romo said.
“I do face-lifts and nose jobs for a living, so this is a pretty good way to give back to society.”
The successful procedure made for a feel-good happy ending that put “Wonder” to shame.
In a previous interview with the Daily News, Jared said he was a big fan of the movie.
“I liked it when he went to school and made friends. And then he went camping and made more friends,” Jared said of the film’s main character.
“They treated him like a regular kid. I’m a regular kid.”