On Monday afternoon, it was announced a veteran received a brand-new working penis and scrotum. Surgeons at Johns Hopkins completed the world’s first penis and scrotum transplant. Surgeons say the patient is due to go home this week, and they expect he’ll have full sexual function.
The 14-hour operation was performed on March 26 by a team of 11 surgeons — nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons. The patient was a veteran who lost his genitalia in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan. Though the patient wishes to remain anonymous, he released a statement that said, “It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer; it is not an easy one to accept. When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal … [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence … like finally I’m OK now.”
Watch the animated video showing how a penis and scrotum transplant works:
— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) April 23, 2018
Johns Hopkins released a diagram and animated video (above) showing how the penis and scrotum transplant was done. A large patch of flesh from just below the navel and including the entire crotch region is cut from the patient’s body. A similar cut is made on the donor — in this case, a deceased man. The donor’s body parts are then attached, hooking together the blood vessels, urethras and other bodily connections. (The video is graphic yet non-bloody; it looks more like installing a new component to your home theater.)
While with other transplants, surgeons will typically try to use tissue from another part of the patient’s body. However, with many veterans there’s not always enough viable tissue to work with. Likewise, these techniques would also require a prosthetic implant for the patient to achieve an erection. With the full penis and scrotum transplant, the patient should be able to get an erection the old-fashioned way.
The successful surgery means this could soon be an option for others who have lost their genitalia, especially soldiers caught in IED explosions. Perhaps in the future it could also be a solution for transgender men who undergo gender confirmation surgery.