BALTIMORE, Md. - After an intensive procedure performed by the Johns Hopkins reconstructive surgery team, a wounded veteran has now received the first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world.
While many veterans sustain severe injuries in war zones, especially lost limbs from IED blasts or other explosives, some soldiers lose other parts of their bodies in combat -- including genitalia.
Johns Hopkins says a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons were involved in the 14-hour surgery on March 26.
"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man," says W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The entire penis, scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall was transplanted from a deceased donor, according to Hopkins.
Johns Hopkins officials say the patient has recovered from the surgery and is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week.
The anonymous patient is a veteran who sustained injuries in Afghanistan.
"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept," said the recipient.
"When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I'm okay now," he said.
Johns Hopkins medical officials say the surgery involves transplanting skin, muscles and tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels. But, as with any transplant surgery, there is concern for tissue rejection, and so the patient is put on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to help prevent this.
The team that performed this surgery is the same team that performed the country's first bilateral arm transplant in a wounded warrior.