By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – The first penile transplant in the U.S. has been completed, surgeons announced Monday.
The 15-hour operation was conducted earlier this month at Massachusetts General Hospital and the military hopes it will help soldiers injured in combat.
Thomas Manning, 64, had his penis amputated after a bout of penile cancer in 2012. Surgeons reported that blood flow between Manning and the donor organ is established and Manning’s body shows no sign of infection or organ rejection. Doctors are cautious, however, since Manning has just begun the healing process.
Called a genitourinary vascularized composite allograft (GUVCA) transplant, the landmark surgery is the culmination of nearly four years of research at the hospital.
Penile transplant are notoriously complicated due to the complex blood vessels and nerve structures in the organ.
“We are hopeful that these reconstructive techniques will allow us to alleviate the suffering and despair of those who have experienced devastating genitourinary injuries and are often so despondent they consider taking their own lives," said Curtis Cetrulo, one of two leaders who managed the team of surgeons, in a statement. “The entire transplant team has worked tirelessly to ensure that our patient is on the path to recovery, thanks in part to the gift of organ donation.”
Only three penis transplants have ever been completed in the world.
The first successful transplant was conducted last year in South Africa, with the patient eventually going on to father a child. China reported a penis transplant in 2006, but the procedure was deemed unsuccessful.
The U.S. military is interested in the procedure since many soldiers suffer maimed genitals while serving.
The armed services are already investing heavily in researching penis transplants that would use a soldier’s own cells to create a transplantable organ.