In 2014, South African surgeons performed the first successful penis transplant in the world, while the very first penis transplant in America was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 2016.
The transplant included an entire penis, scrotum and partial abdominal wall from a donor, which made it distinct from the four other penis transplants, which only included the organ. The patient, identified only as a US military sergeant, underwent the first-of-its-kind procedure at John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland on March 26, USA Today reported.
"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man", W.P. Andrew Lee, the head of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.
A man who lost his penis to cancer became the first USA penis transplant recipient in 2016.
"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept", the patient said, according to the press release.
Johns Hopkins shared a statement from the anonymous soldier: "When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal ..."
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The exact need for these types of surgeries remains unclear, but the newspaper said that Department of Defense data shows that more than 1,300 men have sustained genitourinary injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan, with close to one-third of injuries involving the penis.
The surgery involved the transplanting skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels. It will help not only war victims, but cancer sufferers as well.
The patient, who did not want to be identified, said he felt more complete immediately after the procedure. The patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection. It's not clear how many victims lost all or part of the penis. From 2001 to 2013, 1,367 men, almost all under the age of 35, returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan with genital injuries, according to the Department of Defense Trauma registry.
For this first transplant at Johns Hopkins, which Lee estimated to cost $300,000 to $400,000, the team of surgeons and urologists worked for free. But the experimental nature of the procedure and the difficulty in finding a donor match - the Johns Hopkins patient waited a year - mean it won't be widely available any time soon. Like, that's it, you're done, you're by yourself for the rest of your life.
U.S. Army Rangers during weapons testing.