Global Issues

In a world first, a US veteran receives penis transplant

surgery

After 14 hours of surgery, a veteran of the US Armed Forces has a new, transplanted penis and scrotum.

The world’s most comprehensive penis transplant yet took place at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the end of March, the hospital announced yesterday and so far, it looks like a success. The unnamed patient is walking around and should be able to leave the hospital this week.

The doctors will soon know whether the patient can urinate through his penis, but regaining sensation will take longer, possibly about six months.

Dr WP Andrew Lee, Hopkins’s chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery said such transplants “can help those warriors with missing genitalia just as hand and arm transplants transformed the lives of amputees”.

The donor’s testicles were not included in the scrotum transplant meaning reproduction will not be possible.

In a statement from Hopkins, the patient was quoted as saying: “It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer; it is not an easy one to accept.”

“When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal … [with] a level of confidence as well… like finally I’m okay now.”

The loss of a penis is emotionally traumatic, affecting urination and sexual intimacy, and many patients suffer in silence because of the stigma.

There has been a notable increase in interest in penis transplants due to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few years ago Hopkins surgeons began planning and rehearsing how to perform such a complex operation in patients with widespread tissue damage.

The Department of Defence Trauma Registry has recorded 1,367 male service members who survived with genitourinary injuries between 2001 and 2013.

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