(Image: Jonathan Corum/New York Times)
Between 2001 and 2013, 1,367 American servicemen suffered genital trauma while serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most lost part or all of their penises and testicles due to improvised explosive devices.
It's a horrible way to be hurt that, unlike missing arms or legs, isn't discussed much. Many of the victims feel embarrassment at their ordeals.
Now there may be a new option for these men. Penis transplants are highly experimental and have only been performed by other nations. The process is finally coming to the United States. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore are preparing to conduct the first penis transplant in the country. The New York Times describes the procedure:
The project has been years in the making, the doctors said, with extensive research and practice surgery on cadavers. Some of the work involved injecting brightly colored food dyes into the cadavers to map out the circulatory system in the penis. Dr. Lee said the research had found previously unknown aspects of its blood supply, which will be critical to the transplant’s success.
The operation should take about 12 hours, Dr. Lee said. The surgeons will connect two to six nerves, and six or seven veins and arteries, stitching them together under a microscope.
For the first few weeks after the surgery, a catheter will be left in place to drain urine. Sexual function will take longer to develop — probably a few months, Dr. Lee said. He said nerves would grow from the recipient into the transplant at a rate of about one inch per month, so the timing will depend in part on the extent of the recipient’s injuries and how far the nerves need to go.