First U.S. Penis Transplants Approved For 60 Wounded Soldiers

First Posted: Dec 07, 2015 01:19 PM EST

Medical officials at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are working to perform the first ever penis transplant in the United States, according to a recent report.

Sixty penis transplants for American soldiers who were wounded in battle have been approved, including men who suffered from genitourinary injuries or injuries to their penis and/or testicles.

"These genitourinary injuries are not things we hear about or read about very often," said Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, the chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, via The New York Times. "I think one would agree it is as devastating as anything that our wounded warriors suffer, for a young man to come home in his early 20s with the pelvic area completely destroyed."

Statistics from the Department of Defense Registry show that 1,367 soldiers suffered from genitourinary injuries while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq from 2001 to 2013--many of whom were injured by an improvised explosive device or IED, according to The Washington Post.

The transplant procedure will involve attaching the penis of a deceased donor to the new patient and connecting blood vessels and nerves in the hopes that the recipient's nerves will grow and allow function through the body part. The recipients would also take anti-rejection medication for the rest of their lives.

Of course, like other transplants, there are risks involved, ranging from bleeding to infection, potential rejection and even an increased risk of cancer, in more severe cases. There are also certain psychological factors to consider when receiving organs from donors.

For instance, when Chinese surgeons performed the world's first penis transplant in 2006 on a man who lost the majority of his organ in an accident, the donated organ had to be cut off two weeks after a successful surgery because of psychological issues in which the recipient felt "mentally detached" from the body part, according to The Guardian. Since then, there has been one succcessful case in South Africa as of last year.

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