SA penile transplant man leading a normal life

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Pen ile transplantation restored normal physiological functions in a South African man who is the world's first transplant recipient, without major complications in the first 24 months, a study in The Lancet records.

Two years after receiving the world’s first successful penile transplant, a South African man is leading a normal life and is doing well, reports Eyewitness News.

Stellenbosch University Professor Andre van der Merwe and his team performed the ground-breaking operation at Tygerberg Hospital in 2014.

In a recent article van der Merwe states the transplant has restored man’s “normal physiological functions”. Van der Merwe says the psycho-sociological effects of losing a penis are devastating.

The report says the recipient’s penis had to be amputated after a botched traditional circumcision. Now the 24-year-old man once again has a fully functioning appendage.

Van der Merwe writes that within three months of the surgery, the recipient was having regular sexual intercourse. He adds that two years following the operation, the man’s urine flow rate and erectile function are normal.

Introduction: Ritual circumcision complicated by gangrene is a leading cause of penile loss in young men in South Africa. This deeply rooted cultural tradition is unlikely to be abolished. Conventional reconstructive techniques using free vascularised tissue flaps with penile implants are undesirable in this often socioeconomically challenged group because donor site morbidity can hinder manual labour and vigorous sexual activity might lead to penile implant extrusion. The psychosociological effects of penile loss in a young man are devastating and replacing it with the same organ is likely to produce the maximum benefit.
Methods: We first performed a cadaver-to-cadaver penile transplantation as preparation. After approval from the Human Research Ethics Committee was obtained, we recruited potential recipients. We screened the potential participants for both physical and psychological characteristics, including penile stump length, and emotional suitability for the procedure. A suitable donor became available and the penis was harvested. We surgically prepared the penile stump of the recipient and attached the penile graft. Immunosuppression treatment with antithymyocyte globulin, methylprednisolone, tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and prednisone were commenced. Tadalafil at 5 mg once per day was commenced after 1 week as penile rehabilitation and was continued for 3 months. We collected on quality-of-life scores (Short Form 36 version 2 [SF-36v2] questionnaires) before surgery and during follow-up and measured erectile function (International Index for Erectile Function [IIEF] score) and urine flow rates at 24 months post transplant.
Findings: The warm ischaemia time for the graft after removal was 4 min and the cold ischaemia time was 16 h. The surgery lasted 9 h. An arterial thrombus required urgent revision 8 h after the operation. On post operative day 6, an infected haematoma and an area of proximal skin necrosis were surgically treated. The recipient was discharged after 1 month and first reported satisfactory sexual intercourse 1 week later (despite advice to the contrary). The recipient reported regular sexual intercourse from 3 months after the operation. An episode of acute kidney injury at 7 months was reversed by reducing the tacrolimus dose to 14 mg twice per day. At 8 months after surgery, the patient had a skin infection with phaeohyphomycosis due to Alternaria alternata, which we treated with topical antifungal medication. Quality-of-life scores improved substantially after the operation (SF-36v2 mental health scores improved from 25 preoperatively, to 57 at 6 months and 46 at 24 months post transplant; physical health scores improved from 37 at baseline to 60 at 6 months and 59 at 24 months post-transplant). At 24 months, measured maximum urine flow rate (16·3 mL/s from a volume voided of 109 mL) and IIEF score (overall satisfaction score of 8 from a maximum of 10) were normal, showing normal voiding and erectile function, respectively.
Interpretation: Penile transplantation restored normal physiological functions in this transplant recipient without major complications in the first 24 months.

Eyewitness News report The Lancet article summary

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