A veteran who was injured in Afghanistan has received the world's first total penis and scrotum transplant, Johns Hopkins Hospital announced Monday.
A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons performed the 14-hour surgery last month. The penis, scrotum and part of an abdominal wall came from a deceased donor, the hospital said.
The patient has recovered from the surgery and is expected to be released this week, officials say. The hospital did not disclose in which branch of the military the patient served.
"When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I’m okay now," said the patient, who asked not to be identified.
The hospital said many soldiers injured in blasts from improvised explosive devices come home with debilitating hidden injuries — like the loss of their genitals.
"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man,” said W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
A hospital spokeswoman says doctors are hopeful the patient will have near-normal function in six months.
The scrotum transplant did not include the donor's testicles, meaning reproduction won't be possible. "We just felt there were too many unanswered ethical questions" with that extra step, said Hopkins' Dr. Damon Cooney.
The team that performed the surgery also performed the country's first bilateral arm transplant, in a wounded warrior.
Four other successful penis transplants have been performed, two in South Africa, one in China and one in Boston. But those transplants involved only the penis, not extensive surrounding tissue.