Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore have performed the most complex penis transplant ever on a soldier who was severely wounded in Afghanistan, reports The Baltimore Sun.
In a marathon 14-hour surgery, specialists transplanted a penis, a scrotum and a part of the abdominal wall from a deceased donor onto the wounded soldier.
Similar transplants previously performed at hospitals in Massachusetts, South Africa and China involved only a penis, the Sun's article said, noting that doctors report the surgery appears to have gone smoothly and are optimistic the patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, will gain full function.
“It is our hope that such a life-changing transplant will allow him to regain urinary and sexual function and lead a normal life,” said Dr. Richard Redett, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
This is an incredible development for wounded soldiers, many of whom have suffered severe lower body trauma cased by IUD blasts. In a statement released by Johns Hopkins, the patient said he already felt normal again.
“It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept,” he said. “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal … [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence … like finally I’m okay now.”
Doctors said they will soon know if the patient can urinate, but that it will take about six months for the nerves to fully grow and for him to experience an erection.
The Sun reported that from 2001 to 2013, about 1,367 male service members were placed on the Department of Defense Trauma Registry with so-called genitourinary injuries, which include injuries to the genitals.
According to the Sun, Johns Hopkins doctors formed a team more than five years ago to study and prepare for a penile transplantation, studying blood flow to the penis and practicing on cadavers. They identified the patient in 2012 and talked then about a reconstruction of the penis, using skin from other parts of the body. But the patient, who also lost his legs, decided to wait for a transplant.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons performed the transplant. The patient still had a small part of his own penis to attach to the new organ. To ensure blood flow and sensation, surgeons also connected three arteries, four veins and two nerves during the operation.
The donor’s testicles were not transplanted, so the patient won’t be able to reproduce. Doctors said transplanting them raised ethical issues such as whether the donor’s genetic material might go to the patient’s children, the Sun's article explained.