Last week, Thomas Manning underwent the first penis transplant in the United States, with a dozen surgeons and 30 other medical personnel at Massachusetts General Hospital spending 15 hours replacing Manning's penis with one from a dead donor. Manning, 64, had a partial penectomy in 2012 after doctors discovered an aggressive form of penis cancer, and he told The New York Times on Friday that he has hardly experienced any pain from the operation. "I want to go back to being who I was," he said.
This is the third known penis transplant in the world, following an unsuccessful 2006 procedure in China and a successful operation in South Africa in 2014. Manning is a bank courier, but doctors say they are motivated to perfect the procedure to help wounded veterans. According to Pentagon figures, 1,367 military service members suffered genitourinary injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013, and some of those men lost at least some of the penis. Suicide rates are high among this group. "They're 18- to 20-year-old guys, and they feel they have no hope of intimacy or a sexual life," said Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, a reconstructive surgeon and a leader of Manning's surgical team. "They can't even go to the bathroom standing up."
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is also preparing to perform penis transplants, with an Afghanistan veteran on the waiting list. The Pentagon told The New York Times it "does not like to have wounded warriors undergo unproven techniques — i.e., they do not want them to be 'guinea pigs,' as they have already sacrificed so much." If all goes well with Manning, he should be able to urinate normally in a few weeks, and have restored sexual function in weeks to months, Certulo says.
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