Doctors at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore are preparing to perform the first penis transplant in the US. The recipient will be a veteran injured in war.
A donated organ from a recently deceased man, which will be joined by nerves and blood vessels under a microscope, will provide full function, including urination, sensation and sexual function.
The recipient lost most of his penis and had extensive groin injuries in a bomb explosion while deployed in Afghanistan (as reported by the media).
The loss of the penis is noted as one of the most emotionally traumatic injuries because it affects a sense of identity and manhood, especially for men hoping to have children.
“When you meet these guys and you realise what they’ve given for the country, it makes a lot of sense,” said Dr Richard Redett, a plastic surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital who will help perform the operation.
There have been two penis transplants in the world – the first in China in 2006, and the second in South Africa in 2014. Both implants were a success.
Dr Redett said a veteran suffering from a blast injury could need to have not just his penis replaced but also the scrotum, part of the abdominal wall, groin tissue and part of the inner thigh.
“We’ve sorted out how to take that block of tissue from a donor and give it to a recipient,” he said.
The penis transplant does not involve the testes, where sperm are produced, so if a man with a transplanted penis does father a child, the baby would be his genetic offspring, not the donor’s.
Currently only wounded veterans are being considered for penis transplants, however the surgery could eventually be performed on men with birth defects and transgender men and women.