Surgeons at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, have announced the first successful penis transplant in the United States of America. The surgery, reputed to be the third penile transplant in history, was performed on 64-year-old Thomas Manning, who received the transplanted appendage from a deceased donor. The 15-hour surgery was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital, to restore self confidence and sexual functionality to males with traumatic injuries or amputations. Surgeons say the patient would have normal urinary function within a few weeks, and could regain sexual function in weeks or months.
Following the first penile transplant surgery carried out in South Africa in 2014, a healthy baby boy was born in 2015, and surgeons are confident there are potential beneficiaries for the procedure from botched ritual adult circumcisions. In the US, it’s presumed that soldiers — increasingly suffering from devastating genital injuries in explosions — will be the main beneficiaries of penile transplants. Johns Hopkins University had announced intentions to perform the country’s first surgery on a soldier this year and has a long list of veterans waiting for the procedure.
Head of the Massachusetts General surgical team that performed the procedure, Curtis L. Cetrulo, said attempts will be made to avoid veterans as a patient base until the techniques are perfected. As the technique continues to be perfected, it could even be used to give transgender males more natural urinary and sexual function. The teams from Mass General and Johns Hopkins have cautioned that this won’t be attempted until the surgery has proved safe and effective for injured cisgender men. Manning is doing well, but faces a potentially life-long regimen of drugs designed to keep his body from rejecting the donation as a foreign object.
Penis transplants also carry psychological risk. A technically successful operation performed in China — ended with the recipient asking doctors to remove the organ because of his discomfort with the unfamiliar body part. Doctors in the US have been cautious about the effect these surgeries might have on organ donation. Non-life-saving organs require consent of living family members, however, researchers from Johns Hopkins are worried that a misunderstanding of the practice might keep people from donating any organs at all. Meanwhile, research is on to create lab-grown penises, that would theoretically have a lower likelihood of rejection and carry less stigma than organs from deceased donors.
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