New York: In a first, doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US have successfully transplanted a penis and scrotum on a war veteran who had suffered injuries while deployed in Afghanistan.
In a 14-hour surgery done on March 26, nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine transplanted an entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor on the war veteran, who wished to remain anonymous.
"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions of this young man," W.P. Andrew Lee, Professor and Director of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University, said in a statement.
While it's possible to reconstruct a penis using tissue from other body parts, a prosthesis implant would be necessary to achieve an erection, and that comes with a much higher rate of infection, Lee noted.
The war veteran said after the surgery: "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... [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence... like, finally, I'm okay now."
He has recovered and is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week, the doctors said.
The vascularised composite allotransplant, wherein a body part or tissue is transferred from one individual to another, involves transplant of skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels.
As with any transplant surgery, tissue rejection is a matter of concern. The patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection, the doctors said.