Last updated on March 30, 2017
A 21-year-old man, who lost his penis in a botched circumcision, underwent a 9-hour operation at Tygerberg Hospital where surgeons attached a donated penis.
Kidney surgeon, Andre Van der Merwe, who was one of penis attachment surgeons said, “This is definitely much more difficult, the blood vessels are 1.5 mm wide. In the kidney it can be 1 cm.”
The team used some techniques that had been developed for connecting small blood vessels and nerves in face transplants.
The now 21-year-old patient was 18 and sexually active when he had the circumcision. In South Africa, circumcisions are a traditional part of the boyhood into manhood ceremony that are widely practiced.
After the circumcision, the boy was maimed and left with only 1 cm of his original penis.
Penis transplants have been attempted in the past in countries like China, but the organ has always been rejected. This time, however, doctors in Cape Town said the penis transplant was a success and that their patient was healthy and happy.
The operation happened on December 11 2014. According to Sky News, although the patient says he does not have full sensation yet, three months later he is able to pass urine, have an erection, orgasm and ejaculate.
Doctors suggest the development of full sensation could take up to two years.
There are reports of numerous maiming and even deaths among South African boys each year due to the traditional initiation ceremony. South African men have the greatest need for penis transplants than anywhere else in the world.