On Monday, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore announced that they successfully completed the first full penis and scrotum transplant. The patient, a U.S. service member whose lower legs and genitals were blown off by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, "is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week, and we are optimistic that he will regain near-normal urinary and sexual functions following full recovery," said Dr. Andrew Lee, chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons preformed the surgery over 14 hours in March, after five years of preparatory research and practice. The unidentified patient said in a statement that losing your genitals is "a real mind-boggling injury to suffer; it is not an easy one to accept," and "when I first woke up, I felt finally more normal." The doctors said that the patient will likely be able to urinate by the times he leaves the hospital but it will take about six months for the nerves to regrow enough for sexual function and sensation. The medical team did not transplant the donor's testes, due to ethical concerns about the patient being able to father the late donor's children.
Johns Hopkins released a mildly graphic illustrated re-enactment of the surgery, if you are interested:
— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) April 23, 2018
More than 1,300 male veterans sustained genital injuries in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2013, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Urology. Lee said the "hidden" genital injuries have a "devastating impact" on the identity, self-esteem, and relationships of afflicted veterans. This wasn't the first penis transplant — there was an apparently successful one in South Africa in 2015 and an unsuccessful one in China, and a 2016 penis transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital has left the patient, Thomas Manning, doing fine but without full sexual function, USA Today reports. Peter Weber