The first US penis transplant was successfully performed in 2016. Last year, a uterus transplant recipient gave birth for the first time in the US, too. Now, doctors at Johns Hopkins University have successfully transplanted an entire penis and scrotum to a young serviceman who sustained injuries in Afghanistan resulting in the loss of his genitals.
“We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man,” said Johns Hopkins’ W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D. in a statement. Nine plastic surgeons and two urological specialists took 14 hours to transplant a deceased donor’s entire penis and scrotum (minus testicles), along with a partial abdominal wall, to the young man, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept,” said the veteran in the statement. “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I’m okay now.” This kind of transplant, called vascularized composite allotransplantation, is another alternative to using a patient’s own tissues to reconstruct a penis, which typically needs a prosthetic implant (which can introduce infection) to achieve full function, like erections. The current transplant recipient is on a course of immunosuppressive medication to prevent rejection of the transplanted tissue.