Penis Transplant In South Africa Gives Patient The Right Organ With The Wrong Color

A Penis transplant has become a life-saver for a cancer survivor in 2016 and is already being added to the options given to men with similar cases. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the surgery has already been perfected.

According to the New York Times, the patient who was the first in the U.S. to undergo the procedure had to endure a 15-hour transplant operation in May 2016 to be able to function in the same way before he lost his penis.

At the time, 64-year-old Thomas Manning told the Times why he decided to undergo the procedure which went well, thanks to the expertise of surgeons at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“I want to go back to being who I was.”

Now, another hospital has performed the life-changing surgery to a man who had to endure not having a penis for 17 years. Unfortunately, they would have to do additional medical procedures before officially declaring the penis transplant as a complete success.

Successful Penis Transplant
[Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

Based on an article from Men’s Health magazine, a 40-year-old patient from South Africa underwent the procedure that lasted for 10 hours under the expert hands of a medical team at Tygerberg Hospital headed by Professor Andre Van der Merwe, the head of Stellenbosch University’s urology department.

Speaking to the magazine’s correspondent, Dr. Van der Merwe noted how the unnamed patient showed no signs of rejection after the transplant was concluded.

“He is certainly one of the happiest patients we have seen in our ward…there are no signs of rejection and all the reconnected structures seem to be healing well.”

Unfortunately, there was a “color discrepancy” between the transplanted organ and the patient’s skin color as the medical team gave him a penis from a donor with lighter skin tone.

“He is black and the donor was white, that’s the only issue. We have very few donors,” the doctor told The Sun.

Luckily, the good doctor and his team who performed the penis transplant already thought about a plan to “correct” the “discrepancy.”

“The color discrepancy will be corrected with medical tattooing.”

While the operation was dubbed as “botched” in the two articles cited so far, the procedure performed in a South African hospital is still considered a success—albeit a relative one—considering the risks that come with it.

In fact, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, the leader of the surgical team in Boston who performed the first penis transplant in the U.S. told the Times that the procedure is still experimental.

“We’re cautiously optimistic. It’s uncharted waters for us.”

Based on the outlet’s research, the surgery is actually included in a program that aims to help combat veterans with severe pelvic injuries and cancer survivors like Mannings to be able to live their lives normally.

Dr. Cetrulo also revealed that Mannings will have to wait weeks following the penis transplant before being able to urinate again and months to regain sexual function. The American doctor did not specify how long the recovery will take and even revealed that the cancer survivor would have to take several medications for the rest of his life.

In the case of Dr. Van der Merwe’s South African patient, recovery is expected to take six months for both urinary and reproductive functions to return. During that time, the medical team would still be performing medical tattooing for the transplanted penis to match the patient’s skin tone which would take about eight months to conclude.

A penis transplant is not only rare but also a difficult to perform. In fact, Men’s Health revealed that it is “drastically different than a kidney or liver transplant” because it makes use of techniques from facial or hand transplants.

Penis Transplant Borrows Techniques For Face and Hand Reconstruction Procedures
[Image by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images]

“These procedures require the reattachment of blood vessels, veins, and arteries. Even in best case scenarios, patients will be subjected to a lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs,” the article added.

[Featured Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]