The first penis transplant in the United States will be performed on a veteran returning from Afghanistan.
The soldier will receive the organ from a deceased donor within the next several months, surgeons at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland said, as reported by New York Times. As many as 1,367 men suffered injuries on their genitals between 2001 and 2013. These wounds were largely caused by improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Full functionality of the sexual organ is expected to return in a few months, according to the report. Soldiers who have testicles intact are expected to be able to father their own children. The donor’s families are asked for the use of the organ. While initially the surgery will be focused on wounded soldiers, doctors say it could be used for gender reassignment.
New Zealand Herald reports that two patients have received penis transplants previously. One of these, in China, failed after a patient rejected the transplant. The other one, in South Africa, was carried out successfully; the patient became a father recently.
Soldiers meeting a certain criteria, like having an intact urethra, will be given transplants. In the 12-hour surgery, doctors will connect nerves, arteries and veins from the donor’s penis to the recipient’s.
According to Daily Mail, scientists working at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine announced last year that they had already attempted giving lab-grown penises to rabbits. Of the 12 rabbits the transplant was carried out on, eight successfully ejaculated and four impregnated female rabbits.
Army Sergeant First Class Aaron Causey, who in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan lost his legs and a testicle, said, “I don’t care who you are — military, civilian, anything — you have an injury like this, it’s more than just a physical injury.”