You don’t need to whisper in Charlotte Ponce’s new ear that Michiganders have flat-out fallen in love with her.
That was established two years ago, when she had the first of a string of reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage to her face after pet raccoon crawled into her crib and chewed off her ear, lip, nose and much of her face.
The plucky 12-year-old has leapt into the world’s heart as well.
One measure is the millions of results that pop up when her name is typed into a Google search field – a number that made increase exponentially after this weekend.
Earlier this week, a crew from NBC’s “Today” show stopped by her room at Royal Oak’s Beaumont Hospital, where she is recovering from last week’s surgery to attach a new ear she grew from cartilage carved from her rib, to shoot a segment that will air Saturday.
The show will air at 8 a.m. Watch it locally on WDIV, Channel 4.
Charlotte handled the interview like a seasoned pro and bonded with the crew, her adoptive mother, Sharon Ponce, told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press.
“It should be a really nice show,” said Sharon, who along with her husband, Tim, took custody of Charlotte when her biological parents lost custody of her and her brother after the raccoon attack, then legally adopted them.
Charlotte has had so many surgeries that her parents can’t keep track of them all, but Sharon Ponce said the surgery on July 10 – performed only two other times – was the most painful yet, reducing her daughter to tears as she recovered.
Charlotte’s reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate, carved the ear structure from rib cartilage in April, then inserted it under her forearm, where the skin molded into an ear shape.
As Charlotte recovers, the outpouring of public support has been overwhelming, Sharon Ponce said. The family created a Friends of Charlotte Rose Facebook page so people can keep track of her progress and offer words of encouragement.
As her recovery takes place on a world stage, Charlotte hasn’t been forgotten by people closer to her part-time home at the hospital in Royal Oak.
One of the latest magnanimous gestures comes from the Miner's Den Jewelers, a custom jewelry store in Royal Oak. When Katie Fern, whose family owns the store, heard Charlotte was looking forward to wearing new earrings when her ear has healed, they put together a special gift that will be delivered later, WBJK, Channel 2, reports.
At the same time, the television station urged others who want to show support in some way to send their well wishes or gifts directly to her at Charlotte Ponce, P.O. Box 397, Fruitport, MI 49415.Charlotte may be released from the hospital Saturday, her mother said, but they’ll watch the “Today” show before heading back to the family’s home in Spring Lake.