The first ever penis transplant in the U.S. is happening soon. Surgeons at Johns Hopkins are prepping to perform an operation that will restore genital function to a soldier wounded in what the New York Times called a “horrific injury” from a bomb in Afghanistan.
The surgery is the start of dozens of planned penis transplants for soldiers, and could possibly allow for reproduction.
The 12-hour operation would involve the stitching together of nerves and blood vessels and could restore urinary function and over time, the ability to have sex.
Because the procedure would restore only the penis and not the testes, the patient would not be able to have children, according to the report.
The university has been authorized to perform 60 of the experimental surgeries, with organs coming from deceased males whose families have given permission.
According to the Times, more than 1,367 soldiers suffered injury to their genitals between 2001 and 2013 in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Although the procedure is not required to save a life, doctors and Pentagon officials told the newspaper they believe it is worthwhile to deal with the psychological trauma suffered by the soldiers.
“These genitourinary injuries are not things we hear about or read about very often,” said Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins. “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.”
A South African soldier was able to get his girlfriend president after becoming the first man in the world to receive a successful penis transplant, earlier in the year.