The John Hopkins University School of Medicine has made a major breakthrough in transplants. They released an announcement Monday that celebrates the completion of the first ever total penis and scrotum transplant. The recipient is a U.S. serviceman who was wounded in Afghanistan several years ago. The new procedure offers new hope to many others.
Richard Redett, the Doctor who led the transplant team, held a press conference and announced that the man is expected to regain sexual and urinary function.
“The patient did not receive testicles from his donor to avoid the ethical issues that might ensue if he later had children,” writes USA Today. “The testicles would have contained sperm from the recently deceased donor.”
Both the donor and the recipient have remained an anonymous. The family of the donor were gracious about the procedure, and thanked the soldier for his service.
“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,” said the family’s statement. Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of New England Donor Services, spoke on their behalf. “We hope you can return to better health very soon and we continue to wish you a speedy recovery.”
Thomas Manning received a similar procedure two years ago after he had complications with penile cancer. Manning has yet to return to full sexual function, but the transplant was still successful.
The doctors are hoping this one moves more quickly. “In addition to a large skin graft covering part of the sergeant’s abdomen, penis and scrotum, surgeons connected three arteries, four veins and two nerves to provide blood flow and sensation to the donated tissue. His internal organs were not severely damaged by the blast,” USA Today adds.
The patient is expected to be urinating again later this week. The regrowth of the nerve endings will take longer. It may be six months or more before he regains normal sensation.
W. P. Andrew Lee, director of the hospital’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, noted that the cost of the procedure was covered by the hospital. The success of this transplant will lead to more, opening up new opportunities for those suffering from similar injuries.
“We believe that genital-urinary transplantation can help those warriors with missing genitalia, just as hand and arm transplants transformed the lives of amputees,” he said.
As with all transplants, there is the possibility of rejection. As such, the recipient’s immune system will be suppressed.
In addition to the transplanted penis and scrotum, the patient received bone marrow infusions.The bone marrow helps minimize the risk of rejection. It is a relatively new process that appears to reduce the immune suppression needed in transplants.