Boy born without penis in hospital for tests

2015-07-02 19:33
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - The 5-year-old boy wheels his Spider-Man bag into the ward and settles on a hospital bed, not much bigger than himself, so he can watch his superhero on a portable television before the doctor arrives.

Within seconds, he was making friends with a child nearby and seemed quite at home despite the invasive smell of disinfectant and the medical equipment around him.

He was born without a penis and has travelled from the North West to undergo tests at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

While it’s early days yet, the hope is he will have a functional bladder and penis when he is grown up.

“I believe at the end of the day, a penis transplant will be the best thing, but not at this stage,” his mother Judy told News24 while waiting with her husband for their boy to be admitted for a scope and sonar on Thursday afternoon.

He was born with a rare birth defect called epispadias. His urethra did not fully develop, meaning he has to pass urine from a hole in his groin area.


Now, after several operations, the boy was already able to urinate through a specially inserted tube, but this often broke, resulting in serious bladder infections.

He has to wear a nappy. His nursery school classmates did not want to play with him because they had outgrown their diapers, Judy said.

The family arrived in Cape Town last week and the energetic youngster took his first plane trip in his stride - and has kept his Spider-Man suit close at hand.

Without hesitation, he shoves his arm through one sleeve so he can show off his “spidey senses”, complete with sound effects.

On Monday, doctors tested his urinary function and discovered he has an extremely small bladder, capable of only accommodating between 31 and 51ml of liquid. An average glass of cooldrink is 250ml.

The family were impressed with the hospital and expected to return later this year so a doctor can check up on his interventions and decide on the next step.


At one point, Judy sat outside the ward and paged through a journal of medical test results and photos of his groin. There was a constant cacophony of elevator beeps, wailing infants and beds rattling in the background.

“I feel positive about this and I believe we’re going to get him 99.9% right. And if we can’t, we can show him everything we did to help.”

He’s already started asking questions, such as “when is mine going to grow?”

His dad shares that one of these moments was when he stood in front of the urinal with his two sons.

“All I want is for him to be accepted and as normal as possible,” Judy says.

“They say the Lord puts things in your path you can handle and I believe with his personality, he can speak about this one day and maybe even be a motivational speaker."

Read more on:    cape town  |  medical

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