Surgeons in South Africa have announced what is being called the first penis transplant—not just a re-attachment, but a full replacement from a donor.
A team led by professor André van der Merwe performed the nine-hour operation late last year on a man who had lost his penis to infections after a botched circumcision three years ago.
“This is a very serious situation,” Van der Merwe said in a statement. “For a young man of 18 or 19 years the loss of his penis can be deeply traumatic. He doesn’t necessarily have the psychological capability to process this. There are even reports of suicide among these young men.”
The penis was harvested from a deceased man whose family gave consent for the removal.
It was reported that the patient, whose name is going unreported for privacy concerns, has full use–in every way–of his new penis.
The operation is being called the first successful penis transplant, but, in truth, it is the second such successful operation.
The first successful transplant was performed in 2005 in China. That operation was ultimately deemed a failure, though, because psychological problems led the patient to demand that the member be removed despite that it was in working condition.
As a report on the earlier operation noted, “Clearly, in the Chinese case the failure at a very early stage was first psychological. It involved the recipient’s wife and raised many questions.”
The earlier operation also brought about a series of discussions among doctors on the ethics of such an operation.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.