A young military veteran who had his genitals blown off in a blast in Afghanistan has received the world’s most extensive penis transplant.
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, rebuilt the man’s entire pelvic region — transplanting a penis, scrotum and part of the abdominal wall from a deceased donor — in a highly experimental 14-hour operation.
Doctors said Monday he is recovering well and is expected to leave the hospital this week.
The patient, who asked to remain anonymous, is expected to recover urinary and eventually, sexual function.
The scrotum transplant did not include the donor’s testicles, meaning reproduction won’t be possible.
“We just felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions” with that extra step, said Hopkins’ Dr. Damon Cooney.
Three other successful penis transplants have been reported, two in South Africa and one in 2016 at Massachusetts General Hospital. Those transplants involved only the penis and not extensive surrounding tissue that made this transplant much more complex.
The Hopkins patient received an extra experimental step — an infusion of bone marrow from his donor that research suggests may help a recipient’s immune system better tolerate a transplant. Surgeons said this treatment enables the veteran to take one anti-rejection drug instead of several.
A statement from Hopkins included a quote from the patient, saying, “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal.”