Saturday, 14 March 2015

MEDICAL RECORD: 21-year-old South African Man Gets World's First Successful Penis Transplant

The world's first successful penis transplant has been done by a surgical team in South Africa. And its lucky recipient is a 21-year-old man whose identity is being protected.

BBC reports that the man had lost his penis in a bungled circumcision. He was 18 and already sexually active when he had the circumcision that was part of the transition from boyhood to adulthood in parts of South Africa. Unfortunately, the boy was left with just 1cm of his original penis.

He received his new penis from a deceased donor, whose family gave kudos to the doctors and surgeons at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital that performed the nine-hour operation to attach it. One of the surgeons, Andre Van der Merwe, who normally performs kidney transplants, told the BBC News website:
"This is definitely much more difficult, the blood vessels are 1.5 mm wide. In the kidney it can be 1 cm." 
The team used some of the techniques that had been developed to perform the first face transplants in order to connect the tiny blood vessels and nerves. 
Kudos to science and technology... this brings nothing but amazing smiles and happiness.

The operation was held on 11 December last year. Three months later, doctors say the recovery has been rapid. Full sensation has not returned and doctors suggest this could take two years. However, the man is able to pass urine, have an erection, orgasm and ejaculate. 

He is happy and very healthy. The team said there was extensive discussion about whether the operation, which is not life-saving in the same way as a heart transplant, was ethical. Eventually, after "a hell of a lot of time", they did get the ethical approval. Doctors say South Africa has some of the greatest need for penis transplants anywhere in the world as dozens, although some say hundreds, of boys are maimed or die each year during traditional initiation ceremonies. Further attempts on other patients are expected to take place in three months time. 

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