USA veteran receives 'world's most extensive' penis transplant

First ever total penis transplant performed on US veteran wounded in Afghanistan

Their patient? A veteran who was injured in Afghanistan.

This 14-hour procedure was performed in late March, and was the most extensive among all previous penile transplant attempts, as it involved a lot more tissue than was tried before.

The team transplanted an entire penis, a scrotum without testicles and a partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor.

"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept", the patient said in a statement released by the university.

The recipient, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he "felt finally more normal" on waking up from the operation. Four weeks after the surgery and on the road to recovery, he said: "I feel whole again".

The man has recovered from the transplant surgery and is expected to leave the hospital this week.

Tthe full transplant is radically different to current procedures - often used in transgender surgery or to treat congenital abnormalities - that use a patient's own skin to construct a penis. The Johns Hopkins operation is groundbreaking for also involving the transplant of the scrotum.

Many soldiers sustain injuries causing them to lose their lower limbs or genitals as the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in war have increased during the last decade. Receiving those organs might have enabled the patient to go on to father children with the donor's sperm, something deemed medically unethical. They put the patient on a regimen of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the rejection.

Two other successful penis transplants have been performed - in South Africa in 2014 and at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2016.

"We are so thankful to say that our loved one would be proud and honored to know he provided such a special gift to you", said the statement, read by Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of New England Donor Services, which arranged for the donation. A 2017 study found that as many as 1,367 male soldiers sustained genital or urinary injuries between 2003 and 2013.

Doctors said they had no plans to use the procedure for gender reassignment surgeries at the moment.

The team that performed this surgery is the same team that performed the country's first bilateral arm transplant in a wounded warrior.

The patient said he went through tough times emotionally after the injury, and kept the loss of his genitalia a secret from all but a few. "You've got to get on with your life", he said.

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