New Jersey 12-year-old Jared Galicia was born with Treacher Collins syndrome.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, it’s a condition in which the bones and tissue of the head and face are not developed. As the New York Daily News reports, Galicia was born without ears.
And now, that is all he really wants.Jeswin Thomas/Pexels
No one knew that he had the condition until his birth. His mother, Sandra Jimenez, said:
When he was born, everybody in the room was surprised. Obviously, we got scared. In that moment, you think of everything that could be wrong. All the emotion came out. Thank God he was okay. It’s just physical. His brain was okay.
Galicia’s father supports the family as a dishwasher. Galicia was able to receive the surgery, thanks to a nonprofit called Little Baby Face Foundation, which strives to provide surgeries to children born with deformities free of charge.
His doctor, Thomas Romo, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, explained:
He was born with no ears, no ear canals. His canal is full of bone. It would be like if your ear was completely full of wax and you couldn’t hear.
To create a right ear for him, Romo had to carve out cartilage from three of Jared’s ribs. After the procedure, his mom saw a huge difference in the way he felt about himself.
He always had long hair to cover his ears. After the first surgery, he cut his hair. His personality changed. Now, he’s acting like a big guy. He changed the way he dresses.
Galicia loved the 2017 movie, “Wonder,” which starred Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson and is about a boy who was born with Treacher Collins. Jimenez said that the movie helped normalize what he was experiencing on a daily basis:
I liked it when he went to school and made friends. And then he went camping and made more friends. They treated him like a regular kid. I’m a regular kid.
His mother said it helped him open up to her about his insecurity in social settings. He told her that he hoped to overcome those feelings.
Galicia wears a headband that holds his hearing aids in place. When he undergoes surgery on his left ear next month, his hearing aids will be anchored to his new ears. Romo said that he wants to perform additional procedures on Galicia’s cheeks and chin.
These kids are the epitome of innocence. They did nothing. They’re born with this process to bear, and they have to keep their egos intact as they put up with bullying. We want to help these kids max out their potential.
His mother said that she hopes that the surgeries will help him feel more connected to others in his community.
But no matter what, I always tell him he’ll always be my son, and I love him just the way he is.
Like many preteens, Galicia loves the “Star Wars” franchise and using Snapchat. Although he is like every average boy in many respects, it is clear that Galicia’s story of overcoming obstacles is a remarkable one.