Doctors have reported that over a year after the world's first penis and scrotum transplant operation took place, the operation remains a success and the genitals are working. “He has near-normal erections and the ability to achieve orgasm,” the doctors wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
An unfortunate accident
The patient was an anonymous army veteran that had lost his lower half body in Afghanistan. The incident occurred while on patrol. He and his squad were ambushed by the Taliban. He was on his way to give first aid to another soldier, when he stepped on a hidden improvised explosive device.
In an instant, he lost most of his legs, as well as his genitals and part of his abdomen. He was lucky, however, as specialists at Johns Hopkins Hospital were confident he would be a good candidate for the risky surgery.
It took five years of preparation for the surgery to happen. During that time three successful penis transplants took place but none were as extensive as the veteran's.
His operation would involve the transplant of a single piece of tissue encompassing penis, scrotum, and lower abdominal all together. This is something that had never been attempted before.
A 14-hour operation
The operation took 14 hours and 11 doctors to complete but, in the end, it was a success. “He reports an improved self-image and ‘feeling whole’ again and states that he is very satisfied with the transplant and the implications it carries for his future,” the researchers further wrote.
The veteran can also use the restroom without additional complications. However, one key part of the genitals was not transplanted and that is the testicles.
"If we had included the testes, the recipient could have fathered a child with the donor's DNA," one of the team's plastic and reconstructive surgeons explained in The Guardian last year.
"This young man doesn't have children, but was happy with the decision. He's not in a relationship, but I'm sure he's thinking about getting into one now."