In a world first, a US veteran now has a new penis and scrotum

After 14 hours of surgery, a veteran of the US Armed Forces UU He has a new penis and a transplanted scrotum. The world's most complete penile transplant was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in late March, the hospital announced today, and so far, it seems a success. The unidentified patient is walking and should be able to leave the hospital this week.

This is the fourth successful penile transplant in the world so far, Richard Redett, clinical director of the genitourinary transplant program Johns Hopkins, said at a press conference today. But it is the first time that doctors transplant such a large area of ​​the body, which includes part of the lower abdomen, the entire penis and scrotum, of a deceased donor. Doctors will soon know if the patient can urinate through their penis, but recovery of the sensation will take longer, possibly around six months.

The legs, penis, scrotum and lower abdomen of the Johns Hopkins patient were blown up by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, according to The New York Times . Found genital lesions especially difficult to recover, reports Times . These injuries can have devastating effects on service members' plans to have children, their intimate relationships and their physical and mental health. The victims are usually young, only 24 years old on average, according to a report published by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, called "Intimacy after the injury." And there are many: at least 1,378 men in the armed forces came home with injuries to their genitals and urinary organs between 2001 and 2013, the report says.

One treatment is to reconstruct the penis with a prosthetic cut and tissue from other parts of the body. But service members may be so injured that sometimes there simply is not enough tissue to do so, according to a press release from Johns Hopkins Medicine. Penile transplants may offer a solution, but the procedure is still experimental, for now.

The surgery of March in the veteran of EE. UU It had been done since 2013. This is partly due to the long technical preparation, which included dissections and simulated surgeries on cadavers. Coinciding with the donor and the recipient was also a bit more complicated than for a solid organ such as a kidney, according to press reports: in addition to matching the tissue and blood type of the donor and the recipients, the doctors also agreed with their age and skin tone. And since the recipient had an unusual blood type, there were fewer possible donors.

The team decided from the beginning not to transplant the testicles, which could still make the sperm of the donor, Damon Cooney, professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said during the conference. press. With the testicles, the recipient of the transplant could have sired a child who had the donor's DNA. "We felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions for that kind of transplant," Cooney said.

The entire surgery took 11 surgeons 14 hours to complete on March 26, and until now, the patient is healing well. After the surgery, "I finally felt more normal," he said in a press release. "As I'm finally fine now"