Doctors at Johns Hopkins University will perform the country's first penis transplants on wounded veterans in just a few months.
What a world we live in today. Rapid advancements in medical technology in recent years have led to some important breakthroughs, but none as bizarre as this one. According to a report from the Washington Post, doctors at Johns Hopkins University are prepared to carry out the United States’ first penis transplants on wounded soldiers.
Despite the procedure’s debut in the United States, it has been around for quite some time. Doctors in South Africa have been working for years in an effort to help men of the Xhosa tribe who had been injured during ritual circumcisions.
The majority of circumcisions in the U.S. are performed during infancy and with a high rate of success. But the United States have another demographic that could make use of advanced penis transplant surgery; its some 1,367 veterans that sustained genital injuries in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2011 and 2013.
According to Carisa Cooney, a clinical research manager from the Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, numerous servicemen and military leaders had approached the department asking about penis transplant surgery. In July of 2013, Cooney and her team began seeking approval to carry out the procedure from their internal review board and the organ procurement organization.
Doctors were understandably concerned about the reaction from both institutions and the public surrounding the procedure. Technically speaking, a person does not need a penis to live a full life, and acquiring a donor organ can be a significant hurdle to overcome. Reconstructive surgeries fall short of returning the full function of a penis to the recipient, and a donor organ is usually taken from a deceased family member.
The Johns Hopkins team believes that while the surgery is not completely necessary, it can work wonders for restoring a wounded solder’s sense of self. Scott E. Skiles, a polytrauma social work supervisor from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System reported that young male patients said that they would rather lose “both legs and an arm” before suffering a urogenital injury.
The surgery has been successfully carried out by doctors in other countries, but American patients will still need to wait a few more months before it becomes widely available in the States.