Hendon is a soft-spoken, polite 17-year old with a quick smile and warm demeanor. A junior at his Plant City, Florida high school, Hendon is a standout in a variety of school activities from wrestling to band, as well as math and science.
Hendon was born with microtia, a congenital deformity where the external ear is underdeveloped. His mother Stephanie recalls worrying about how they would afford the cost of the multiple surgeries necessary to correct the defect. (Often private insurance will not cover what it considers a cosmetic anomaly; microtia correction can cost $20,000 to $30,000.) At a little league game when Hendon was nine, Stephanie voiced her concern to a friend, a fellow nurse with whom she had attended school. Her friend suggested she reach out to Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“Ironically, we had both worked at the Tampa Shriners Hospital, but because that location focuses on orthopedics, I didn’t think of it for Hendon,” Stephanie said. When she discovered that the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital specializes in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery, she reached out for an appointment.
Shriners Hospitals for Children—Cincinnati recognizes that serious self-esteem issues can develop when children are bullied or teased for physical differences. Its team of board-certified plastic surgeons can treat a wide array of issues, whether congenital, developmental or acquired, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
Hendon remembers his first meeting with his surgeon, Brian Pan, M.D., FACS. “As a kid, he explained everything to me so I could understand; he even drew pictures so I knew what was going to happen,” he said.
Ear reconstruction must occur in stages, requiring a series of surgeries to create the ear from rib, skin and cartilage grafts. Hendon has had three surgeries and may need one more.
Stephanie continues to marvel at how, even at age 17, Hendon actually looks forward to his trips to Cincinnati Shriners Hospital. “Everyone here makes him feel special and cared for. It is just the best place.”