Afghan War Vet Gets First-Ever Full Genital Transplant

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A team of Johns Hopkins doctors say they have performed the first-ever full male genital transplant for a veteran injured in Afghanistan.

Nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons finished the 14-hour surgery in March, according to a statement from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The patient, who did not want to be identified, said he felt more complete immediately after the procedure. “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal … [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence … like finally I’m okay now.”

Remarkably, the procedure, which replaced the penis, scrotum and part of the abdominal wall with tissue from a single donor, could restore reproductive functions as well as basic plumbing.

“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., director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

There have been other penis transplants — one in Boston in 2016, two in China and one in Brazil — but this is the first complete male genital replacement surgery, according to the hospital.

Now, nearly a month on from the March 26 surgery, the patient has recovered and doctors expect him to be released from the hospital in a week. So far, his body appears to have accepted the transplant and a hospital spokeswoman told NBC Washington that he could see a return in reproductive ability in six months.

Many veterans come home from Middle East theaters with genital injuries from improvised explosive devices. A 2017 study found that as many as 1,367 male soldiers sustained genital or urinary injuries between 2003 and 2013.

The team of surgeons that restored the patient’s manhood also successfully completed the world’s first double-arm transplant on a wounded Marine last year.

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