Medical science is always moving forward, with doctors tackling things that would have seemed impossible years ago. Most recently in our baliwick, a young American soldier who had been grievously wounded by an IED in Afghanistan became the recipient of the world’s first scrotum and penis transplant. Surgeon Richard Redett was one of 11 doctors involved in the procedure, which lasted 14 hours, and he’s written an account of the experience.
Penis transplants aren’t anything new – three have been done successfully – but bringing the scrotum along with them is something totally new. The reproductive system of the male is complex and delicate, and there are ethical considerations besides. The donor organs were gifted from a dead man and did not include the testes to prevent passing on their DNA.
“This is life-enhancing, rather than life-saving surgery. It’s not more of a challenge than attaching an arm, but the function of the penis is multi-faceted: we had to think about the nerves that create sensation, the blood vessels that mean he’ll be able to get an erection, attaching the urethra to allow him to urinate, putting the scrotum where it needs to go. He’ll always have the very serious risk of the body rejecting the organ, plus a higher risk of cancers and opportunistic infections. But we also performed a bone marrow transplant from the donor to help him accept the organ and minimise those risks.”
It’s a long and complex piece that’s well worth reading if you’d like to know more about the clinical procedure behind a task this difficult.
Read more at The Guardian.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.