4 critical components to the success of the first total penis transplant
Doctors at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland announced the first-ever successful total penis and scrotum transplant was performed on an Afghanistan veteran recently. The recipient was wounded in an IED attack that left him without sexual or urinary function but left his internal organs unharmed.
The procedure was performed on March 26th and the unidentified "sergeant" will have urinary function by the end of the week.
The wounded warrior will also regain complete sexual function in roughly six months. Testicles that could contain semen were not part of the procedure due to the ethical issues associated with having children through the donor's genetic material.
Though there have been successful partial operations performed elsewhere, this is the first total penis and scrotal transplant, with more tissue transplanted than ever before. The 14-hour procedure required a number of considerations.
1. The donor.
The donor was a recently deceased man whose identity has not been released. According to USA Today, a statement from the donor's family (which includes a number of veterans) was read by the President and CEO of New England Donor Services.
"We are so thankful to say that our loved one would be proud and honored to know he provided such a special gift to you," the statement reads. "We hope you can return to better health very soon and we continue to wish you a speedy recovery."
The recipient's body could possibly reject the foreign tissue at any time. The sergeant will likely have to take immunosuppressants to ensure the acceptance of the new tissue. To further diminish the likelihood of rejection, the recipient was infused with the donor's bone marrow to reduce the level of medication necessary to prevent a rejection.
3. Complete sexual function.
The sergeant's body was connected to his donated organ through three arteries, four veins, and two nerves in order to give him full blood flow and sensation.
4. Hundreds of similarly wounded servicemen.
Between October 2001 and August 2013, an estimated 1,367 male service members sustained injuries to their genitals and urinary system. 73 percent of those included scrotal injuries, 33 percent included the testes, and 31 percent included the penis.