Nine plastic surgeons, two urological surgeons and a team of anaesthesiologists, nurses and surgical technicians have completed the world’s first full penis and scrotum transplant.
They worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for 14 hours to successfully transplant a penis and scrotum onto a young US serviceman who sustained injuries to his lower pelvis in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan.
The team had to obtain the necessary tissues - consisting of a penis, scrotum and part of the lower abdominal wall - from a deceased donor, CNN reports.
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“While war injuries cause great suffering, disfigurement and disability, they have also provided the impetus for medical discoveries,” said Dr W.P. Andrew Lee, the chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University.
“While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious, some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others,” he added. “Genito-urinary injury, where the male service members’ external genitalia are lost or severely damaged, is one such ‘unspoken injury of war’.”
Although this was not the first penis transplant - that was carried out in South Africa in 2014 - it was the first in which the scrotum and parts of the lower abdominal wall were also transplanted.
For ethical reasons, the donor’s testicles and vas deferens - which produce and transport sperm - were not transplanted.
“We would not want to transplant the germ line from the donor, because that would mean that, were the recipient to father a child, that actually the genetic background of the child would be from the donor and not from the recipient,” said Dr Gerald Brandacher.
He said the patient will receive prosthetic testicles in a second operation.
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