World’s first penis and scrotum transplant

Johns Hopkins surgeons perform world's first penis, scrotum transplant
Johns Hopkins surgeons, who perform world's first penis, scrotum transplant, seen with the soldier on whom the transplant was performed.

News East West

American surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have created history by performing the world’s first penis transplant on an serviceman whose genitals were blown off in an explosion in Afghanistan.

A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons performed the 14-hour surgery on March 26.

The entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor was transplanted on the soldier.

In his reaction to the transplant, the soldier 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… a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I’m okay now.”

The anonymous soldier will be released from hospital later this week. He will get the feeling back in his penis in about six months.

“We are optimistic that he will regain near-normal urinary and sexual functions following full recovery,’’ said Dr W.P. Andrew Lee who is professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

How surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital performed penis and scrotum transplant
How surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital performed penis and scrotum transplant

But the soldier will NOT get back his fertility because his testicles have not been restored through the transplant surgery.

The doctors said his testicles were not restored for ethical reasons because the sperm in his case would have been produced from the transplanted tissue of the deceased donor. Which means if his testicles were restored and he had a baby, that baby won’t be his baby but of the deceased donor.

Explaining this, plastic surgeon Damon Cooney said the soldier’s testicles were not transplanted because it would have involved transplanting germline tissue that generates sperm. In case, the surgeons had transplanted the soldier’s germline tissue from the donor, the ability of the soldier “to have children would result in genetic material being transmitted from the donor of the transplanted tissue to the recipient’s offspring.’’

Doctors said the soldier would need a prosthesis implant to achieve an erection, but that comes with a much higher rate of infection.

Though successful penis transplant have been performed in South Africa and Boston previously, Johns Hopkins surgeons say their operation is very different.

“Our transplant is different because it’s a much larger piece of tissue’’ and it involved reconnecting three arteries, four veins and two nerves,” according to Johns Hopkins plastic surgeon Dr Richard Redett.

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