An unidentified U.S. veteran, who suffered an injury in Afghanistan, is expected to undergo the first penis transplant in the United States at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore in 2016.
“These [genital] injuries are not things we hear about or read about very often,” Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, the chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, told The New York Times.
“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.”
Surgeons at the famed medical facility will have to connect the major blood vessels and nerves of the donated organ to the soldier under a microscope.
Normal functions, such as urinating and having sex, are expected to happen after the soldier's nerves grow into the transplanted penis, which could take months.
The penis will be donated from a deceased man per his family's permission.
A March report by the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families noted that approximately 5 percent of trauma admissions between 2001 and 2008 involved injuries to the genitals.
Most of these veterans' injuries were to the "scrotum (29 percent), kidney (22.9 percent), bladder (21.3 percent), penis (14.2 percent), testicle (9.1 percent), ureter (2.7 percent), and urethra (0.8 percent)."
“Our young male patients would rather lose both legs and an arm than have a urogenital injury,” Scott E. Skiles, of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, told The New York Times.
The world's only successful penis transplant occurred in Cape Town, South Africa, on Dec. 11, 2014.
Johns Hopkins has given the green light for 60 transplants, which are only offered to servicemen injured in combat, according to Lee.
“Some hope to father children,” Lee said. “I think that is a realistic goal.”