Doctors in the US have announced the world’s first successful penis and scrotum transplant. The surgery, which took place at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland required 11 surgeons and took place over 14 hours on the 26th of March.
The surgery was performed on an anonymous US soldier who was injured after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan.
As part of a telebriefing on Monday, Dr Andrew Lee who is head of plastic surgery at the University, told reporters, “While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious. Some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others.”
“In a 2014 symposium co-sponsored by Johns Hopkins titled 'Intimacy After Injury', we heard from the spouses, families, and caregivers of these wounded warriors about the devastating impact of genitourinary injuries on their identity, self-esteem and intimate relationships,” he said.
Remarkably, the penis, scrotum, and abdominal wall were taken from a deceased donor and doctors now say that the man will regain full use of his penis as a result of the transplant. This is in contrast to penile reconstructive surgery where the majority of men will never regain full sexual, or urinary, function.
“It is our hope that such a life enhancing transplant will allow him to regain urinary and sexual function and lead a more normal life,” said the head of the genital transplant program. “It is also our goal to offer the procedure in the future to other suitable patients.”
So far another 60 of the surgeries have been authorised.
The soldier who has not been identified spoke of what it was like for him to wake up after the surgery,
In a 14-hour operation, a military veteran whose genitals were blown off by a bomb received an extraordinary transplant: a penis, scrotum and portion of the abdominal wall, taken from a deceased organ donor https://t.co/psevaPACFt— At War (@NYTimesAtWar) April 23, 2018
“When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal like finally I'm okay now.”
The surgery, which is known as a vascularised composite allotransplantation, involves doctors replacing large amounts of blood vessels, bone, muscle, skin, nerves, and tendons and was an enormous undertaking by doctors.
Interestingly, the testes were not taken from the donor because of ethical concerns, although it isn’t stated clearly if that’s because the testes would function if they were transplanted. Obviously, if that were the case, and the testes created sperm with the genetic lineage of the donor, it would represent a huge ethical dilemma for the surgeons involved.