US veteran wounded by IED blast receives first total penis, scrotum transplant

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The world's first total penis and scrotum transplant was performed about a month ago on a US veteran who was injured in Afghanistan, doctors say.

A team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons performed the 14-hour surgery last month.

Surgeons at John Hopkins described lost penises as "an unspoken injury of war", suffered in silence by patients who face stigma as well as a loss of sexual intimacy and urinary function.

The recipient has requested anonymity, but released a brief statement saying he is expected to be released from the hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, next week following his March 26 operation.

The soldier called his injury from an improvised explosive device "mind-boggling" and hard to accept. Details of the incident were not released. When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal... a level of confidence as well.

The soldier, who remains anonymous, lost his genitals to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

While a handful of successful penis transplants have been reported in recent years, this was the first to reconstruct the scrotum as well - making it far more complex and expensive than previous procedures.

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Only four penis transplants have ever been done successfully, including the one announced Monday, doctors said.

Tthe full transplant is radically different to current procedures - often used in transgender surgery or to treat congenital abnormalities - that use a patient's own skin to construct a penis.

The sergeant did not receive testicles from his donor to avoid the ethical issues that might ensue if he later had children, said Damon Cooney, another transplant team member.

"We are so thankful to say that our loved one would be proud and honored to know he provided such a special gift to you", said the statement, read by Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of New England Donor Services, which arranged for the donation. The testicles would have contained the sperm from the recently deceased donor.

The patient's injury in Afghanistan also necessitated the amputation of both of his legs above the knee. But as with any transplant surgery, they had feared tissue rejection. "You've got to get on with your life", he said.

The Hopkins patient received an extra experimental step, an infusion of bone marrow from his donor that research suggests may help a recipient's immune system better tolerate a transplant.