On May 8 and 9, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital operated on Thomas Manning, a 64-year-old bank courier, for 15 hours. The result was the first penis transplant ever performed in the United States.

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“I want to go back to being who I was,” said Manning, who lost his penis to cancer.

Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, the plastic and reconstructive surgeon who lead the team told the New York Times that they were “cautiously optimistic... It’s uncharted water for us.”

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One penis transplant failed in 2006 in China. The other attempt was performed successfully in 2014 in South Africa—the man was eventually able to father a child.

The Times reports:

The surgery is experimental, part of a research program with the ultimate goal of helping combat veterans with severe pelvic injuries, as well as cancer patients and accident victims...

Surgeons at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are also planning to perform penis transplants, and have had a combat veteran, injured in Afghanistan, on the waiting list for several months.

Dr. Cetrulo estimated the cost at $50,000 to $75,000. Both hospitals are paying for the procedures, and the doctors are donating their time.

Cetrulo said that pelvic injuries can be severely distressing to veterans: “They’re 18- to 20-year-old guys, and they feel they have no hope of intimacy or a sexual life. They can’t even go to the bathroom standing up.”

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According to the Washington Post, some doctors have been concerned about the effect these surgeries might have on organ donation. Even though you have to explicitly opt in to allow your penis to be used in a transplant, some worry that squeamishness (or something like it) might lead some people to refrain from donating organs altogether.

“Today I begin a new chapter filled with personal hope and hope for others who have suffered genital injuries,” said Manning in a statement, “particularly for our service members who put their lives on the line and suffer serious damage as a result.”


Image via MARCELODLT/Shutterstock.