The medical center recently announced that the first U.S. recipient of such a transplant would be an Afghanistan veteran, who was affected by horrific injury after he had been attacked with a homemade explosive device. Doctors are confident that they will be able to perform the complicated surgery within a few months to a year.
Surgeons said that the penis, which would be taken from a dead body, should regain urinary functionality within months after surgery. They also plan to help the patient regain ability to have sex and conceive.
But conceiving is impossible if the recipient lacks testes, doctors said. The Johns Hopkins team explained that penis transplant recipients can become fathers only if their testes are intact because otherwise their bodies can no longer produce sperm.
The first penis transplant in the world was performed in China nearly a decade ago, but the procedure was a disaster. After the surgery the recipient asked doctors to remove the organ because of “psychological rejection.” Moreover, because doctors failed to properly re-enable the blood flow in the area, the transplanted organ had large patches of dead skin on it.
The second penis transplant was performed in South Africa in 2014, and it was a complete success. The U.S. team plans to perform 60 similar surgeries in the U.S. to help wounded veterans have a normal life again.
According to an Army report, 1,367 veterans returned with genitourinary wounds from Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly all vets were young men, who were injured by amateur explosive devices. Some of them lost their penis, others their testes, while in the worst cases the entire pelvic area was irreversibly damaged.
Combat veterans often have to live with missing limbs, but few people know about the tragedy of those that hide their wounds because of embarrassment and fear of stigma. Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee of Johns Hopkins explained that genital injuries have devastating effects on our soldiers’ lives, although stories about what happened to them do not make the headlines.
Yet, the procedure is deemed experimental in the U.S. for the moment. Doctors do not yet know what risks it may involve in each case. They do know that it may lead to infections, bleeding, and side-effects triggered by drugs that try to force the body into accepting the new limb as its own.
Image Source: Pixabay
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