LEVITTOWN, NY (WPIX) — A 5-year-old New York boy born without a left ear recently underwent a unique ear reconstruction surgery using cadaver tissue.

The technique used for Luca Vacchio, of Long Island, was pioneered by a plastic surgeon at Cohen Children’s Medical Center who is the only one in the world to perform the procedure. 

Luca was diagnosed with hemifacial microsomia (HFM), a condition causing underdevelopment or no development of the face, ear, and jaw. According to doctors, HFM affects one in 4,000 children.

As a new parent, his mom, Christa Vacchio, was scared about his future. 

“Once he was in general education, we started to notice a little regression. He was starting to see kids that had both ears and why did he have only one ear,” Vacchio said. “So, that was a little bit of a struggle.”

Plastic surgeon Dr. Nicholas Bastidas revolutionized ear reconstruction by using donated human organ tissue, after feeling frustrated with the techniques used. Normally, the procedure is done by either reconstructing the ear with cartilage from the child’s own rib cage or synthetic implants. 

“Those were not made of human tissue. They had a high risk of infection,” the doctor said. “The whole process would take six hours in the operating room. There was a risk of possibly puncturing a lung.”

Prior to the operation, Bastidas carved Lucas’ new left ear using his right ear as a template. Luca only spent 90 minutes on the operating table with little downtime afterward.

When Luca and his family first met with Bastidas, they were also greeted by Luca’s favorite superhero — Iron Man — in honor of the boy’s bravery.

Now, it’s been three months since the surgery, and Luca’s self-confidence has grown by leaps and bounds. 

“Once he got this surgery, the teachers even told us, ‘We just saw a spark in him,'” his mother said.

Luca has another surgery scheduled in April to lift the ear and make it possible for doctors to install a hearing aid.