Doctors achieve world's first complete penis transplant
DOCTORS in the US have performed the world's first complete penis and scrotum transplant on a former soldier who had his genitals blown off after stepping on a hidden bomb while on tour in the Middle East.
The 14-hour operation performed last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was the most complex and extensive penis transplant ever attempted.
Called a vascularised composite allotransplantation, it was the first surgery of its kind anywhere in the world.
The young army veteran received an entire penis, scrotum (without testicles), and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor.
The transplant involved a single piece of flesh that measured 25cm by 28cm and weighed about 2kg.
It took a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons to work to attach the urethra, erectile tissue, arteries, veins, nerves and skin of the penis and abdominal wall to its new owner.
"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man," said Andrew Lee, professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The surgery took place on March 26 and nearly a month on doctors seem confident of its success but will continue to monitor the patient's recovery.
Speaking to The New York Times, the veteran said his injury took an immense toll on his relationship and psyche.
"That injury, I felt like it banished me from a relationship," he said. "Like, that's it, you're done, you're by yourself for the rest of your life. I struggled with even viewing myself as a man for a long time."
The former serviceman also lost both legs below his knees but particularly struggled with the loss of his genitals. Four weeks after the surgery and on the road to recovery, he said: "I feel whole again."
Wanting to remain anonymous, he is just one of many military personnel to have suffered such horrific injuries from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, while in combat in the Iraq or Afghanistan in the past decade.
Two other successful penis transplants have been performed in the past - one in South Africa in 2014 and anotherat the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US in 2016. However both involved only the organ itself, not the scrotum or surrounding flesh.
Prior to the latest operation, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital said a successful surgery could open the way for about 60 other servicemen with genital injuries to have the same transplant operation.