A U.S. military veteran receives the world’s first total penis and scrotum transplant. Surgeons at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine announced on Monday that the said historic transplant was received by a U.S. serviceman severely injured years ago in an IED blast in Afghanistan.
The American veteran’s name has not been released but the medical team says he is recovering well from the operation and is expected to regain both his urinary and sexual function.
The donor has not identified also. His cause of death was not revealed as well. His family, however, said in a statement that they are praising the sergeant’s service to his country. The statement also noted that the donor family counts as their members a number of veterans themselves.
Transplant team member Damon Cooney said the patient did not receive testicles from his donor to avoid confronting ethical issues that may surface if he later had children. The testicles would have contained sperm from the recently deceased donor.
The surgery performed in a 14-hour procedure in late March was the most extensive one yet of its nature as surgeons said it involved more tissue that has been previously transplanted.
Surgeons also connected three arteries, four veins, and two nerves to provide blood flow and sensation to the donated tissue, aside from the large skin graft covering part of the sergeant’s abdomen, penis, and scrotum. The veteran’s organs were not severely damaged by the blast.
Another member of the transplant team, Richard Redett, is expecting the veteran to regain the ability to urinate by the time he leaves the hospital later this week. It will take around six months for the nerves to regrow enough to restore sexual function and sensation.
John Hopkins shouldered the cost of the procedure. Once it becomes more routine, penile transplantation will cost around the same as a liver transplant. A recent estimate puts a liver transplant cost in the U.S. at above $800,000.