Johns Hopkins performs world's first penile transplant


John Hopkins University School of Medicine announced today that a US military sergeant who was severely injured in an Afghanistan bombing several years ago has received the world's first total penis and scrotum transplant.

A soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan from an IED blast just received a life-changing surgery.

As with any transplant surgery, tissue rejection is a concern for doctors, so the patient has been put on a series of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent that possible development, according to Johns Hopkins officials.

The Johns Hopkins surgery, performed in a 14-hour procedure in late March, was the most extensive, involving more tissue than what has been previously transplanted, the surgeons said. They transplanted from a deceased donor the entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall.

But penis transplants have generated intense interest among veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a few years ago Hopkins surgeons began planning and rehearsing how to perform such a complex operation in patients with widespread tissue damage.

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"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept", the veteran said.

The patient, who wished to remain anonymous due to the stigma, told the Times: "I feel whole again". "Confidence. like finally I'm OK now".

The procedure is the second penis transplant to be reported in the US, but the first full transplant of its kind. "We are so thankful to say that our loved one would be proud and honored to know he provided such a special gift to you", the family said. To reduce the risk that his body would reject his new penis and scrotum, the patient received a bone marrow transplant from the organ donor. "Please know that this is truly a heartfelt statement, as we have several veterans in the family". He lost both legs above the knee, but the genital injury was even more devastating. "That injury, I felt like it banished me from a relationship. You've got to get on with your life", he said.

Johns Hopkins is covering the costs of the surgery, estimated at $300,000 to $400,000, and the 11 surgeons involved worked for free, the Times reports. But it was the genital injury that hit him hardest, he said. The Department of Defense Trauma Registry has recorded 1,367 male service members who survived with genitourinary injuries between 2001 and 2013.

Doctors said they had no plans to use the procedure for gender reassignment surgeries at the moment.