Doctors in Massachusetts Perform First U.S. Penis Transplant


At Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston last week, 12 surgeons and about 30 other medical professionals performed the first successful penis transplant in America, according to The Week. The complicated procedure (which requires attaching the penis, urethra, arteries, veins, and nerves) took 15 hours to complete and is only the third known successful transplant of its kind in the world.

The patient was 64-year-old Thomas Manning of Halifax, Massachusetts, a bank courier who received a partial penectomy in 2012 due to cancer. The donor was a deceased man, according to The New York Times. The surgery began on May 8 and continued through the night into May 9, but the process began long before that date. For three years, the Massachusetts General team prepped for the transplant, including practicing for the surgery by removing the necessary tissue from five or six dead donors.

Manning also had to undergo a "pretty rigorous psychological screening" before going under the knife because the doctors had to ensure that his "motivations for this transplant were appropriate," transplant surgeon Curtis Cetrulo explained during a news conference (show in the video above).

After briefly returning to the operating room due to a post-surgery hemorrhage, Manning is now recovering, the doctors say. Going forward, he will take a lifetime worth of several anti-rejection drugs. And if all goes well, he should be able to urinate in a few weeks and engage in sexual activity in weeks or months.

The estimated cost for the procedure is between $50,000 and $75,000, but The New York Times reports that Manning's surgery and upcoming experimental procedures will be paid for by Mass General and Johns Hopkins University, and the doctors will be volunteering their time to perform them. The hope is that the procedures will soon benefit a large pool of wounded veterans. According to the Department of Defense (DOD), about 1367 male soldiers sustained injuries to their genitals in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013. Those injuries left them unable to urinate while standing or to have intimate relationships, and may have contributed to higher suicide rates.

Manning's surgery is the first step toward making that a reality. Though there have been a couple of failed procedures in the past, the doctors at Mass General are hopeful. The DOD has a few reservations about using wounded veterans as "guinea pigs" for experimental operations, but the results of this transplant will help doctors better understand the complications so that the procedures can become more common and have a higher success rate in the future.

[h/t The Week]