On Monday, a team of Doctors at the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland U.S.A announced they had performed the world’s first total penis and scrotum transplant on a soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan.
The 14-hour operation took place on March 26, and was performed by a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urologic surgeons. They used a penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall transplanted from a deceased donor. According to the team, the soldier should be able to regain sexual function, which is impossible with penis reconstructions.
“We are optimistic that he will regain near-normal urinary and sexual functions following a full recovery,” W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told reporters. The patient was severely injured by a blast from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan several years ago, Lee said.
The man lost his testicles in the explosion but did not get them restored as part of his transplant.
“The testicles were not transplanted because we had made a decision early in the program to not transplant germline tissue, that is to say not transplant tissue that generates sperm because this would raise a number of ethical questions,” said JHU plastic surgeon Damon Cooney.
“In particular, the ability of the recipient of the transplant to have children would result in genetic material being transmitted from the donor of the transplanted tissue to the recipient’s offspring,” Cooney added.
“And we just felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions with that.”
Doctors said they are hopeful he will be able to urinate with his penis in the coming weeks, and that he will eventually regain enough sensation to achieve an erection.