Penile Transplant: Will it happen in the USA?

Penile transplant surgery was performed successfully for the first time in South Africa at Tygerberg hospital in Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa, December, 2014 . The 21 year old recipient’s penis was previously amputated in a life saving procedure after the development of severe complications after a traditional (non medical) circumcision.

In the US, there may be numerous opportunities for similar such surgery, ranging from traumatic genital injuries from military injuries, to patients who have undergone a therapeutic penectomy for the treatment of penile cancer.

The current state of the art in the US is a free flap phalloplasty to create a new phallus; however, the number of physicians experienced in such surgery is limited and the result is less functional.

With respect to the South African recipient, it is reported that the patient mad e a full recovery and regained all function in the newly transplanted organ. The initial goal was for a 2 year return to full function and therefore this patient has recovered ahead of schedule. With respect to the surgery, techniques employed include the same type or microscopic surgery used in facial transplants to connect small blood vessels and nerves. A similar psychological evaluation of the patient was performed as well. Looking to the future, nine more patients in South Africa are scheduled to receive penile transplants. If this technique proves its reliability and safety, it could soon come to the US.

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