Penis transplant: Surgeons inundated with requests

2015-03-17 07:56
Surgeons carry out the world's first successful penis transplant. (Stellenbosch University)

Surgeons carry out the world's first successful penis transplant. (Stellenbosch University)

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We speak to the experts who performed the world's first successful penis transplant

2015-03-13 18:27

The University of Stellenbosch’s medical department announced the performance of the world’s first successful penis transplant. News24 spoke to the incredible doctors involved. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - The team of doctors at Tygerberg Hospital who carried out the world's first successful penis transplant have been inundated with requests from men around the world who want to have the operation.

Several men have also offered to be donors, Netwerk24's Alet Janse van Rensburg reported on Tuesday.

Professor André van der Merwe, head of Stellenbosch University's Division of Urology, said they did not expect the overwhelming reaction, but appreciated the publicity.

Nine on waiting list

Nine men who lost their penises after botched circumcisions during traditional ceremonies have been on a waiting list for a penis transplant since 2010.

Van der Merwe said they will first have to do a cost analysis to see if the hospital can afford more such operations, and if they may get financing from other sources.

“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,” explained Van der Merwe.

Van der Merwe said the main problem was to find donors.

“The heroes in all of this for me are the donor, and his family. They saved the lives of many people because they donated the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin, corneas, and then the penis.”

He said most families were unwilling to send deceased men to their graves without a penis. Donors must have the same blood group and similar genetic material as the recipient.

Preparations to operate on the nine patients will start in the next three to six months.

Micro surgery

The delicate nine-hour micro surgery employed some techniques developed for the first facial transplant.

“The psychological evaluation of patients was also similar. The procedure has to be sustainable and has to work in our environment at Tygerberg,” said Van der Merwe.

This procedure could eventually help men who have lost their penises from penile cancer or as a last-resort treatment for severe erectile dysfunction due to medication side effects.

Because of the scarcity of donors, the recipient will have to be prepared to receive a penis from a different race. In such a case the skin can be replaced with other skin or tattooed.

Like other transplant recipients, men who have a penis transplant have to take immune suppressants for the rest of their lives to stop their bodies rejecting the donated organ.

- Health24: Traditional circumcision

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town  |  penis transplant  |  health
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