Cancer patient receives first penis transplant

Posted at 11:10 AM, May 16, 2016

BOSTON (AP) — A cancer patient has received the first penis transplant in the United States, a Boston hospital said Monday.

Massachusetts General Hospital has confirmed that Thomas Manning of Halifax, Massachusetts, received the transplanted penis in a 15-hour procedure last week. The organ was transplanted from a deceased donor.

The New York Times first reported the transplant Monday.

Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, who helped lead the surgical team, tells the newspaper that normal urination should be possible for the 64-year-old Manning in a few weeks, with sexual function possible in weeks to months.

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Cetrulo, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, adding that "it's uncharted waters for us."

The Times reports most of Manning's penis was removed amid a battle with an aggressive and potentially fatal penile cancer.

Manning said he experienced hardly any pain during and after the procedure. One serious complication came the day after the surgery when he was rushed to the operating room after beginning to hemorrhage. He said his recovery has been smoother since, but he still wasn't ready to take a close look at the transplant.

Manning, who is single and was not involved with anyone when the cancer was discovered, said the amputation made new relationships impossible.

He said he'll be lucky if he gets to "75 percent" of what he used to be. The bank courier told the newspaper that he looks forward to going back to work and hopes to have a love life again. He said he's speaking out in order to help dispel a stigma associated with cancers and injuries affecting the genitals.

The donor penis came from the New England Organ Bank. It told the newspaper that the donor's family wished to remain anonymous, but had delivered well wishes to Manning.

It took three years of preparation, including operations on cadavers, before the team was ready to perform transplants. The operation on Manning involved about a dozen surgeons and 30 other health care workers, according to the Times.

Cetrulo said his team will likely perfect its technique on civilians before providing transplants for injured veterans. He said the Defense Department doesn't "like to have wounded warriors undergo unproven techniques."

A set number of transplants is not planned. Dr. Dicken Ko, who directs the hospital's urology program, said candidates for future transplants will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. They will be limited to cancer and trauma patients for now, and will not be offered to transgender people.

Another transplant is planned as soon as a matching donor becomes available for a patient whose penis was destroyed by burns in a car accident, Cetrulo said.

The world's first penis transplant was performed at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in December 2014.

That patient had his penis amputated three years earlier after complications from a circumcision performed in his late teens.

The university near Cape Town said in announcing the transplant in March 2015 that the 21-year-old patient, whose name was not released, made a full recovering following the nine-hour surgery and regained all function in the transplanted organ.

A man in China received a penis transplant in 2005. That operation also appeared to be successful, but doctors said the man asked them to remove his new penis two weeks later because of psychological problems experienced by him and his wife.