A man recovering from penile cancer is the first American citizen to receive a penis transplant. The operation, a first in the United States, was performed by doctors at the at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. According to the doctors involved, more transplants will occur in the coming years. This is still, however, an experimental procedure at the forefront of medicine.
Thomas Manning, 64, had his penis removed to save his life two years ago. After surgery, he was left with a one-inch stump. He had to urinate while standing, and although he was single before when he was diagnosed with penile cancer, intimate relationships were out of the question, Manning confided to a New York Times reporter.
The hospital’s team, led by Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, has been preparing this operation for three years. They practiced on six cadavers, meticulously training for the difficult procedure ahead. Only two penis transplants had been performed before. The first successful penis transplant was made by doctors in South Africa in 2014, but the first attempt ended in failure in 2006 in China. The South African transplant was so successful that it ultimately resulted in a pregnancy.
The operation went on pretty smoothly, despite a post-surgery complication that caused hemorrhage. Since then, recovery went well. Doctors say in a couple of weeks Manning should be able to urinate normally, and in a few months tops, should also regain sexual function. The new penis came from a donor whose family wished to remain anonymous.
“If I’m lucky, I get 75 percent of what I used to be,” Manning said. “Before the surgery I was 10 percent. But they made no promises. That was part of the deal.”
Ultimately, this experimental procedure will go on to help veterans. From 2001 to 2013, 1,367 veterans went through genitourinary injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan. Soldiers who come back home with genital trauma have one of the highest suicide rates among veterans. “They’re 18- to 20-year-old guys, and they feel they have no hope of intimacy or a sexual life,” Dr. Cetrulo said to the NY Times. “They can’t even go to the bathroom standing up.”