- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2018

The world’s first penis and scrotum transplant was performed on a U.S. war veteran who was wounded by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, surgeons at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine announced Monday.

Speaking on a conference call with journalists, lead surgeon Richard Redett said the patient is expected to regain both urinary and sexual function, Newsweek reported. Information related to the patient’s identity, that of the donor and how the donor died was not available.

The genitourinary transplant occurred on March 26, with nine surgeons working 14 hours to complete the procedure. The team included nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons who attached parts of the donor’s abdominal wall with the penis and scrotum, the hospital said.

The patient did not receive the testicles of the donor, to protect against any legal or ethical implications if children were produced with sperm from the donor, Newsweek reported.

“It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer. It is not an easy one to accept,” the recipient said in a statement provided by the hospital. “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal. … [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence … like finally I’m OK now.”

The complicated surgery involved transplanting skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels from the donor to the recipient. The patient is instructed to take a regimen of immunosuppresvive drugs to prevent rejection. The team of doctors also performed a bone marrow transplant from the donor to further reduce the risk of rejection, Newsweek reported.

There have been at least three other successful penis transplants, the Associated Press reported, two in South Africa and one at Massachusetts General Hospital, which took 15 hours and included 50 surgeons, according to CNN.

The idea for a full penis and scrotum transplant dates back to as early as 2013, building on past successes with arm and hand transplants that took place at Johns Hopkins, Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee told The Washington Times.

“Our team included surgeons, psychologists and bioethicists,” Dr. Lee said. “Multiple anatomic dissections and cadaver rehearsals were performed in preparing the surgical plan.”

Dr. Lee was on the team that in 2012 performed the first bilateral arm transplant on Brendan Marrocco, a then-26-year-old infantry soldier who had lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack.

The patient waited just over a year for a donor penis and scrotum to become available and the physicians hope they can continue similar types of surgery for wounded veterans, AP reported.

Dr. Lee said whether the patient was a viable candidate for such a procedure boiled down to motivation and strong social support.

“He is a highly motivated young man who understood the potential risks and benefits of the transplant,” Dr. Lee said. “He has good family support. Mostly, he wants to be made whole, both physically and psychologically.”

At least 1,367 male service members wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan sustained genitourinary injuries between 2001 and 2013, the AP reported.


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