A 21-year-old man just underwent the world’s first ever successful penis transplant in Cape Town, South Africa, following a botched circumcision when he was 18-years-old.
Professor Andre van der Merwe, head of the Stellenbosch University’s Division of Urology, spoke to reporters about the ground-breaking, nine-hour operation, which took place at the Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town.
The procedure, which was carried out in December, with the results being announced on Friday, took place after a suitable donor passed away. The recipient has made a full recovery and is even sexually active again.
The man took part in a traditional African circumcision ceremony three years ago, which is seen as a rite of passage for young South African boys entering manhood. Nelson Mandela is reported as having gone through the same process.
However, it is thought that up to 250 men a year lose their penises due to unskilled or even negligent practitioners in South Africa.
As Mr. van der Merwe said to reporters, “For a young man of 18 or 19 years the loss of his penis can be deeply traumatic. He doesn’t necessarily have the psychological capability to process this. There are even reports of suicide among these young men. There is a greater need in South Africa for this type of procedure than elsewhere in the world, as many young men lose their penises every year due to complications from traditional circumcision.”
Following the success of the world’s first penis transplant, van der Merwe said that at least nine more patients are due to undergo a similar procedure, which can also reportedly help those with penile cancer and severe erectile dysfunction.
Van der Merwe continued, “Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery.”
At the same time, Professor Frank Graewe, head of the Division of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery at Stellenbosch University, said about the penis transplant, “It’s a massive breakthrough. We’ve proved that it can be done – we can give someone an organ that is just as good as the one that he had. It was a privilege to be part of this first successful penis transplant in the world.”