"We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man," said W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, according to a Monday press release.
— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) April 23, 2018
The 14-hour surgery was conducted on March 26 by a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons on the veteran, who chose to remain anonymous. The surgeons transplanted a penis, scrotum without testicles and a partial abdominal wall from a dead donor onto the man.
"It's a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept," the patient said, according to the press release.
Many soldiers sustain injuries causing them to lose their lower limbs or genitals as the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in war have increased during the last decade. IEDs, extensively used against US-led invasion troops during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, are commonly seen as roadside bombs.
"When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like, finally, I'm okay now," he added.
The patient has recovered from the surgery and is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week, although he is still taking medication to prevent his body from rejecting the transplant, the Baltimore Sun reported.
This type of transplant, in which a body part is moved from one person to another, is called vascularized composite allotransplantation and involves transplanting skin, muscles, tendons, nerves, bone and blood vessels. After such a surgery, the patient must continue to take a variety of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent their body from rejecting the foreign tissue.
This surgery is the latest success for Hopkin's reconstructive team. In 2013, doctors performed a double arm transplant on Brendan Marrocco, a veteran who lost all four limbs when he drove over a bomb during the Iraq war in 2009.
Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital transplanted a penis without a scrotum in 2016.