Published: Thu, April 26, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Veteran gets world's 1st full male genital transplant

Veteran gets world's 1st full male genital transplant

Each is one more opportunity for the host's body to reject a transplant.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins University have performed the world's first total penis and scrotum transplant on a US military serviceman who was wounded in Afghanistan.

"I feel whole again", the USA veteran who received the organ said a month after surgery, the New York Times reported.

The soldier called his injury from an improvised explosive device "mind-boggling" and hard to accept. Details of the incident were not released.

The IED took both his legs above the knee and destroyed his genitals. The patient himself, who has not been named, said these suicidal thoughts crept into his own head, too. "I struggled with even viewing myself as a man for a long time", he told the New York Times. He's recovered from surgery and should go home later this week.

While it is possible to reconstruct a penis using tissue from other parts of the body, Lee says a prosthesis implant would be necessary to achieve an erection - and that comes with a much higher rate of infection.

Although a couple of other penis transplants have been performed, this is the first one that also transplanted the scrotum and surrounding skin.

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The Johns Hopkins team has been planning for penis transplant procedures for years, with the goal of eventually helping wounded veterans. In part, this is because there are so few candidates.

"While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious, some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others", Lee told reporters in a press conference, according to The Washington Post.

There have been two penis transplants in the world to date.

Such transplants are very complicated. In 2016, a 64-year-old man who lost his penis to cancer got a new organ and in 2015, a South African university said it had performed a successful penis transplant and said the patient had fathered a child. The transplanted penis was removed after two weeks.

However, although the patient received the scrotum, the testicles, which are responsible for sperm production, were not part of the transplant.

The operation to replace the patient's penis and lower abdominal area took 14 hours, the research team said. Earlier ones included only the organ. The scrotum, however, is mostly for looks, as the man's testicles were not recoverable and he has lost his reproductive ability. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

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