The first transplant of a penis and scrotum has been carried out in the US hospital Johns Hopkins University.
The transplant was carried out on a young veteran who sustained injuries in Afghanistan which resulted in the loss of his genitals, according to reports.
There have been penis transplants before – the first was in 2016 – and there has even been a successful transplant of a uterus which resulted in the recipient having a child, but this is the first total transplant of a penis and scrotum.
Johns Hopkins’ W.P. Andrew Leem M.D., professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery, said:
We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man.
A soldier got the world’s most extensive penis transplant ever.
It took doctors at Johns Hopkins 14 hours to attach a penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall. The veteran was injured by a hidden bomb while serving in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/HaJCmfYr3M
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 23, 2018
Lots of soldiers returning from combat have visible scars or even lost limbs as a result of IEDs or other explosive devices, and as transplant technologies improve, the opportunity for them to get their lives back is getting better and better.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons was involved in the surgery, which took a gruelling 14 hours on March 26.
They transplanted from a deceased donor the entire penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall. The testicles were not transplanted.
— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) April 23, 2018
The veteran said:
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.
Confidence… like finally I’m okay now.
The veteran, who wishes to remain anonymous, has recovered from his surgery and is expected to be discharged from the hospital later in the week.
Will any new sperm cells immediately be genetically his, or will they take on the donor’s DNA for a while?
— Daniel Gump ⛪️???☕️? (@DSiPaint) April 23, 2018
According to Lee, it is indeed possible to reconstruct a penis from other parts of the body, with a prosthesis implant to achieve an erection.
However, this procedure comes with a much higher risk of infection, and sometimes, due to other injuries, servicemen don’t have enough tissue to take from other parts of their bodies.
This type of transplant, is called a vascularised composite allotransplantation. The transplant involves skin, muscles, tendons, nerves, bones and blood vessels.
As with any transplant, there is a risk of tissue rejection on the part of the recipient, so to mitigate it, the patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to try and prevent rejection.
To aid this, Lee’s team has developed an ‘immune modulation protocol’ which tries to minimise the number of these drugs which are used to prevent rejection.
Back in November, we reported on the world’s first successful human head transplantation in China.
It took surgeons 18 hours to complete the feat of medical engineering, which is now being hailed among the heady heights of surgical excellence.
The operation was carried out on a corpse and has now proved it’s possible to successfully reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels.
Italian Professor Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, announced the success of the team, who he said ‘realised the first human head transplant’.
He added an operation on a live human will take place ‘imminently’.