17 May 2016

Penis transplant a 'surgical milestone'

3:11 pm on 17 May 2016

A man in Boston whose penis was amputated three years ago has had a successful transplant operation - the first of its kind in the United States.

 Thomas Manning, the 64-year-old man who lost most of his penis to cancer, is recovering well after undergoing the United States' first penis transplant operation.

Thomas Manning, the 64-year-old man who lost most of his penis to cancer, is recovering well after undergoing the United States' first penis transplant operation. Photo: AFP

Thomas Manning, 64, received the donated organ three years after his penis was amputated due to penile cancer.

He is the third man worldwide to have had the experimental surgery, with the hospital's doctors calling it a "surgical milestone".

The patient was expected to regain normal urination and sexual function in the next several months.

The 15-hour operation took place this month at Massachusetts General Hospital and involved more than 50 doctors from many departments including urology, psychiatry, plastic surgery, and several others.

Although penile injuries are not always fatal, "the psychological aspects of such an injury can be overwhelming" hospital officials said in a press release.

Mr Manning hoped that by speaking publicly about his experience he would remove the stigma of genital injury and inspire other men to remain hopeful about recovery.

"We've got 1500 veterans who've had serious injuries. When they get their legs blown off, the bomb doesn't stop at their knees.

"And people don't see these injuries because they don't want to see them. When you see people walking down the street with one leg you see people look away all the time. Lucky them, but the veteran doesn't have the choice."

Mr Manning said he was determined to have a penis after his own was amputated because of cancer.

"Don't hide behind a rock", he told the New York Times, who first reported the story.

Another patient at the hospital is due to receive a transplant as soon as a donor becomes available. His penis was destroyed in a car accident.

The first successful penis transplant was performed in South Africa in 2015 on a man who had complications following a traditional circumcision ceremony. He later went on to father a child.

In 2006 a Chinese man who received the world's first penis transplant decided after two weeks to reverse it.

Doctors removed the donated penis following a "severe psychological problem" experienced by the man and his wife.

Dr Curtis Cetrulo, who led the surgical team in Boston, said that performing penis transplants could help to prevent suicides and even be considered "life-saving".

He also said doctors hoped to use the technique on wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Victims of penis and genital injuries, known as genitourinary injuries, usually suffer in private with depression and embarrassment.

In the hospital statement, Mr Manning wrote: "Today I begin a new chapter filled with personal hope and hope for others who have suffered genital injuries.

"In sharing this success with all of you, it's my hope we can usher in a bright future for this type of transplantation."

- BBC

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