Johns Hopkins performs first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world

April 23, 2018, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Diagram of the penis transplant. Credit: Devon Stuart for Johns Hopkins Medicine

Many soldiers returning from combat bear visible scars, or even lost limbs, caused by blasts from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. However, some servicemen also return with debilitating hidden injuries—the loss of all or part of their genitals. Now, the Johns Hopkins reconstructive surgery team that performed the country's first bilateral arm transplant in a wounded warrior has successfully performed the first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world.

"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man," says W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons was involved in the 14-hour surgery on March 26. They transplanted from a deceased donor the entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall.

"It's a real mind-boggling to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept," says the recipient who is a veteran who sustained injuries in Afghanistan and wishes to remain anonymous. "When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal... [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence... like finally I'm okay now," he says.

The recipient is a veteran who sustained injuries in Afghanistan and wishes to remain anonymous. He has recovered from the surgery and is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week.

While it's possible to reconstruct a penis using tissue from other parts of the body, says Lee, a prosthesis implant would be necessary to achieve an erection, and that comes with a much higher rate of infection. Additionally, due to other injuries, servicemen often don't have enough viable tissue from other parts of their bodies to work with.

This type of , where a body part or tissue is transferred from one individual to another, is called vascularized composite allotransplantation. The involves transplanting skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels. As with any , is a concern. The patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection. Lee's team has developed an immune modulation protocol aimed at minimizing the number of these drugs needed to prevent rejection.

Explore further: 1st US penis transplant could raise hope for maimed soldiers

Related Stories

1st US penis transplant could raise hope for maimed soldiers

May 16, 2016
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help accident victims and some of the many U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs.

Man with 3 faces: Frenchman gets 2nd face transplant

April 17, 2018
In a medical first, a French surgeon says he has performed a second face transplant on the same patient—who is now doing well and even spent a recent weekend in Brittany.

Q&A: Life after a heart transplant

March 28, 2018
Dear Mayo Clinic: My dad is 66 and was just put on the waitlist for a heart transplant due to coronary artery disease. How soon after the transplant would we know that he's out of the woods and his body didn't reject the ...

Doctors set for first penis implant in US

December 7, 2015
Johns Hopkins University doctors are preparing for what would be the first US penis transplant, a procedure that could potentially help hundreds of wounded veterans.

Cancer patient receives first penis transplant in US (Update)

May 16, 2016
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the first penis transplant in the U.S. and is recovering well from the delicate surgery, doctors said Monday.

Recommended for you

Clues found to early lung transplant failure

May 21, 2018
Among organ transplant patients, those receiving new lungs face a higher rate of organ failure and death compared with people undergoing heart, kidney and liver transplants. One of the culprits is inflammation that damages ...

Blood type O patients may have higher risk of death from severe trauma

May 1, 2018
Blood type O is associated with high death rates in severe trauma patients, according to a study published in the open access journal Critical Care that involved 901 Japanese emergency care patients.

Brains, eyes, testes: off-limits for transplants?

April 28, 2018
Since the world's first successful organ transplant in 1954—a kidney—the discipline has advanced to the point where a wounded soldier could have his penis and scrotum replaced in a groundbreaking operation last month.

Emergency treatment by older surgeons linked to slightly lower death rates

April 26, 2018
Patients undergoing emergency surgery who are treated by older surgeons (aged 60 or over) have slightly lower death rates in the first few weeks after their operation than patients treated by younger surgeons (aged less than ...

Bionic suit helps paralyzed patients stand and walk again

April 25, 2018
Patients undergoing physical rehabilitation at Rush for paralyzing injuries are being aided by a robotic suit designed to help raise people to full height and walk.

Johns Hopkins performs first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world

April 23, 2018
Many soldiers returning from combat bear visible scars, or even lost limbs, caused by blasts from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. However, some servicemen also return with debilitating hidden injuries—the loss of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.