In 1995, Lloyd Brubacher was just five years old, travelling on the back of his Mennonite family’s horse-drawn wagon when he slipped and changed his life forever.
He fell off the back of the wagon, his feet stuck inside while his head dragged along a gravel road.
By the time the buggy was stopped, Lloyd had been dragged a few hundred metres. His family — without phones and with neighbours spread over miles — scrambled to find help.
A passerby called 911 and an ambulance took Lloyd to a local hospital before he was transferred by helicopter to Sick Kids in Toronto.
“The team there pulled out so much gravel from my head,” Lloyd recounts, though he doesn’t remember the incident or his stay at the hospital afterwards.
After removing the gravel, the doctors performed surgery to close a tear in his brain membrane, repair his skull and graft skin over his skull.
Lloyd’s left ear could not be saved.
Over the following decade, Lloyd underwent countless surgeries. He says one of those surgeries was particularly life-changing.
“I had some hardware put in so that I can snap-on a prosthetic ear,” he explained. “Now every few years, I come to Sunnybrook where the team makes me a new ear.”
Sunnybrook’s craniofacial prosthetics team created Lloyd’s most recent ear using 3D technology, followed by careful painting and artistry so that the prosthetic ear blends naturally into his face.
“If you didn’t know it was fake, you might not even notice,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd, now in his twenties, has left the Mennonite community. He works as a tractor and tanker driver at Highland Custom Farming, and while he didn’t used to talk about the incident that changed his life or his scars or missing ear, he’s recently become more open to sharing. He posts photos of his new ear — as well as farm life, inspirations and family — on his Twitter account @thefalse_earguy.
“For years I didn’t want to talk about it because growing up I was made fun of because I wasn’t ‘normal’ like the rest of them,” Lloyd said. “It seems now my life is an inspiration to many people, so I’m happy to tell my story and now I say ‘ask away’.”