What is Penis Transplantation? 5 Facts You Should Know

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Feb 20, 2016 06:00 AM EST

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 28: In a media event provided by the German Foundation for Organ Transplants (Deutsche Stiftung Organtransplantation) an employee wearing a surgical mask stands over an empty styrofoam box used for transporting human organs in an operation room at the Vivantes Neukoelln clinic on September 28, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. German politicians and health officials are debating the country's current system for matching doners with recipients following a scandal earlier in the year in which some patients were given preferential treatment at several hospitals. Vivantes clinics were not involved in the scandal. (Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Penis transplantation is a surgical operation wherein a penis from an organ donor is transplanted onto a patient. In the United States, medical staff and researchers from the Johns Hopkins Hospital are mapping out the coursework for the first ever penis transplant in the country.

The recipient will be a U.S. vet who was wounded while in the service. "When you meet these guys and you realize what they've given for the country, it makes a lot of sense," said Dr. Richard Redett, a plastic surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Not The First Of Its Kind

To date, there are two medical records of penis transplants in the world. One was conducted in 2014 involving a man from South Africa and another operation was performed on a Chinese man back in 2006. While the former was a success story, it was not the same case for the latter.

Factors to be Considered

There is a need to test for some measure of compatibility between the donor and the recipient. The tissue from the donor should match in terms of the recipient's blood type and skin tone. The age difference between the pair should not exceed a 10-year gap.

There is also a special permit to be secured first for the donation to be allowed, unlike other organ donations involving the heart, lungs or liver.

Recipients Must Undergo Screening, Including Psychiatric Tests

Chosen recipients will also need to have passed a battery of tests before undergoing surgery. "Psychiatric evaluations for patients can take up to a year," said Carisa Cooney, clinical research manager, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

"There's a significant loss with the initial injury that the patient has to overcome emotionally, so we make sure to have a psychiatrist, who is also an expert in psychosexual disorders, on the team."

Success of the Operation

According to Cooney, the success of the transplant, particularly the extent of urinary function, erection and ability to have sexual intercourse or have children, is not guaranteed. It could also take six to twelve months before the organ can become fully functional.

The Receiver Can Still Father Children of His Own

Since the transplant involves the donation of a reproductive organ from another person, question arises about who the father of the offspring would be. The first question that people with genital deformities often ask is if they could still be capable of procreating after the transplant.

In principle, the recipient can still have children "if the patient's testes are still present," says Dr. Redett. And since the transplant does not include the testes, which are the two male reproductive glands that produce sperm, the resulting offspring would still belong to the recipient, genetically speaking.



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