A man in Massachusetts has become the first person in the United states to have a penis transplant.
The patient was Thomas Manning, a 64-year-old whose penis was amputated because of cancer. Massachusetts General Hospital made the announcement Monday that a team of a dozen surgeons and about 30 health-care workers, led by Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo and Dr. Dicken Ko, performed the procedure last Friday.
After the surgery, Manning said he felt well, and only experienced slight pain. In an interview with Manning over the weekend, The New York Times reported that:
The surgery is experimental, part of a research program with the ultimate goal of helping combat veterans with severe pelvic injuries, as well as cancer patients and accident victims.
If all goes as planned, normal urination should be possible for Mr. Manning within a few weeks, and sexual function in weeks to months, Dr. Cetrulo said.
Mr. Manning welcomed questions and said he wanted to speak out publicly to help dispel the shame and stigma associated with genital cancers and injuries, and to let other men know there was hope of having normal anatomy restored.
Manning first became aware of his cancer after an accident at his job. The doctors who treated him noticed a growth in his penis, and tests revealed potentially fatal cancer. In order to live, Manning would need amputation. He was single at the time of the procedure, and Manning said that since the operation dating had become out of the question, and as a result he’s suffered from depression.
Doctors said in a statement the transplanted penis had begun to receive regular blood flow, and showed no signs of infection or rejection. The team of doctors prepared for the surgery for more than three years, often using cadavers for dissection and to practice attaching and removing tissue. It took Manning two weeks waiting on the donor list to find someone with matching skin tone and blood type. The donation had to first be approved by the deceased donor’s family because a penis is not among the regular body parts included when someone agrees to become a donor.
Penile cancer is relatively rare. There were only 2,030 cases reported in the U.S. this year, but as the Times reported, doctors hope veterans can benefit from his type of surgery. With the prevalence of manmade explosives on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 1,000 soldiers suffer from genitourinary injuries. Suicide rates are already high among veterans, but they’re even higher for those with genital damage.
Doctors in China and in South Africa are the only others to attempt a penis transplant. The operation in China failed in 2006, but in 2014 the surgery in South Africa worked. Last June, the girlfriend of the South African patient said she was pregnant.
The team that performed the surgery on Manning already has another patient waiting for a surgery, which can happen just as soon as a donor becomes available.