More than a year after undergoing a 14-hour operation to transplant the penis, scrotum and lower abdominal wall, a severely wounded veteran reports that he has regained his normal sensation and function in his new body parts.
The young man now has "near-normal" erections, the ability to orgasm and a normal sensation in the axis and tip of his transplanted penis, according to his medical team at Jones Hopkins Medical School. He urinates while facing a "high flow" and has no problems with urgency or tension. (Transplantation does not include donor testicles to avoid the possibility of paternity of non-genetically related children.)
Doctors report their patient's update on November 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The man who wished to remain anonymous was the first to undergo such complex genital transplantation and only the third in the world to have a successful penis transplant (since then, the fourth). The transplant corrected a traumatic injury from an improvised explosive device (IED), which destroyed the human penis and scrotum and caused significant tissue loss in its lower abdominal wall. This also resulted in amputations of the knee on both legs.
Organ and tissue transplantation from an age-appropriate donor was extremely difficult, requiring surgeons to develop an entirely new revascularization technique to ensure proper blood supply. But he seems to have succeeded by all measures.
After transplantation, the man reported an improvement in self-reported pleasure scores, as well as an improved self-image and again a "sense of wholeness". The man has returned to school, lives independently with leg prostheses and is "very pleased" with his transplant and his prospects for the future.
The success of human transplantation is encouraging news for others in need of such sensitive reconstruction. According to the registry of the Ministry of Defense, 1367 men – almost all under the age of 35 – returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with genital injuries between 2001 and 2013.
The Johns Hopkins surgical team planned to perform 60 penis transplants. They estimate that this first complex transplant costs $ 300,000 to $ 400,000, even though surgeons perform the surgery for free.
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