A group of doctors at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore are gearing up to offer military men injured in war the country’s first penis transplants. The surgeries could start within a year, and recipients could regain sensation, along with urinary and sexual function, within months, doctors said.
Though it’s unrealistic that they would regain all function, the hope of fathering a child “is a realistic goal,” Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, the chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, told The New York Times. The transplants would only involve the penis, not the testes, so any sired children would be genetically related to recipients.
The group of doctors felt compelled to offer the transplants because of the psychological toll of such injuries, particularly feelings of shame, stigma, and loss of identity. “I think one would agree it is as devastating as anything that our wounded warriors suffer, for a young man to come home in his early 20s with the pelvic area completely destroyed,” Lee said. Another doctor quoted by the Times said that in his experience young veterans would rather lose both legs and an arm than suffer a genital injury.