A veteran wounded in Afghanistan becomes the first person in the world to receive a total penis and scrotum transplant.
The surgery was performed at Johns Hopkins and was the first of its kind in the world.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons was involved in the 14-hour surgery on March 26. They transplanted from a the entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor.
“We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man,” said W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The recipient is a veteran who sustained injuries in Afghanistan and wishes to remain anonymous. He is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week.
“It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept,” said the recipient.
“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 said
While it’s possible to reconstruct a penis using tissue from other parts of the body, said Lee, a prosthesis implant would be necessary to achieve an erection, and that comes with a much higher rate of infection. Additionally, due to other injuries, servicemen often don’t have enough viable tissue from other parts of their bodies to work with.
According to a statement from Johns Hopkins, this type of transplant, where a body part or tissue is transferred from one individual to another, is called vascularized composite allotransplantation. The surgery involves transplanting skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels. As with any transplant surgery, tissue rejection is a concern. The patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection. Lee’s team has developed an immune modulation protocol aimed at minimizing the number of these drugs needed to prevent rejection.
The team that performed this surgery also performed the country’s first bilateral arm transplant in a wounded warrior.
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