A team of South African doctors from Stellenbosch University and the Tygerberg Academic Hospital performed their second successful penis transplant on the man, whose identity they are withholding, in April.
The recipient plans to have his penis medically tattooed so that his new member matches the color of the rest of his body. Medical tattooing commonly obscures skin imperfections — including vitiligo (patches of white skin) — using flesh-colored pigments.
“A color discrepancy between the recipient and the donor organ will be corrected with medical tattooing between six to eight months after the operation,” doctors said in a release.
The 40-year-old man is the third person to receive a penis transplant, in a surgery that took over nine hours.
“The first time he saw his penis, he was quite emotional and he couldn’t believe that after 17 years he has a penis again,” Prof. Andre van der Merwe said. “He is certainly one of the happiest patients we have seen in our ward,” he said.
The patient is expected to regain all urinary and reproductive functions of the penis within six months of the procedure.
“We expect him to have normal erections that allow him to have normal sexual intercourse,” Van der Merwe said. He is also expected to regain full sensation in his penis.
In December 2014, the same team of doctors performed the world’s first successful penis transplant.
More than two years later, the patient reports that he is doing “extremely well, both physically and mentally,” Van der Merwe said. “He is living a normal life. His urinary and sexual functions have returned to normal, and he has virtually forgotten that he had a transplant.”
The second transplant was performed in May 2016 at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Penile mutation resulting from botched circumcisions is more common in South Africa than elsewhere in the world.
Experts estimate that South Africa sees as many as 250 partial and complete amputations every year.
Van der Merwe said there would be more transplants — if only there were more penises.
The reason the procedure is still rare, he said, is because there is a lack of organ donors.
“I think the lack of penis transplants across the world since we performed the first one in 2014, is mostly due to a lack of donors.”