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Everything you need to know about penis transplants.

Today, I learnt that penis transplants are a real thing.

Limb transplants? Sure. Face transplants? Cool. Dick transplants? WTF.

Naturally, I had a lot of questions. And, after some intensive Googling, I now consider myself somewhere in the realm on an expert on the area.

This is everything you need to know…

Firstly, why would someone have this procedure?

So, it turns out it’s not an option for the under-endowed men out there who simply want to upgrade their junk.

But there are plenty of other situations in which a penis transplant could come in handy. Like where botched circumcision has caused extensive damage to a man’s penis – an injury not uncommon in South Africa, where ill-experienced people often carry out unsanitary procedures.

Or where the penis has been damaged or lost to an accident or trauma, an increasingly common occurrence among US army veterans wounded by improvised explosive devices.

penis transplant
Image via Wikipedia.

Has a penis been successfully transplanted before?

The first attempt at a penis transplant was in China in 2006. A 44-year-old male, who lost his penis in an accident, underwent the procedure, but had the surgery reversed 15 days later due to psychological trauma.

The first successful transplant was in South Africa in December last year, when surgeons attached a penis to a 21-year-old man who had lost his due to a botched circumcision.

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Surgeons from John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore are gearing up for the first US penis transplant. They plan to perform the surgeries on injured veterans and are currently awaiting a donor, the New York Times reports.

So where do they get the penises from?

The penises, much like any other organ, come from deceased donors.

They can potentially be artificially grown, though an artificial penis has not been transplanted onto a human yet (though experiments with rabbits were successful).

So, maybe one day, men will be able to flick through a catalogue of artificially grown dicks and select one to their liking. Or go into a shop for the try before you buy experience.

But until then, it’s a matter of matching up blood and tissue types and a lifetime of anti-rejection medication.

penis transplant
Maybe one day men will be able to choose what they want. But not today. Image via Wikipedia.

How does the procedure work?

There are a whole bunch of specialists involved – from surgeons and urologists to psychologists and bioethicists.

The Baltimore team is planning on connecting four tiny arteries and two veins, plus a minimum of two nerves to allow for sensation to be felt.

It took the South African team nine hours to connect the necessary blood vessels and nerves.

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Can the recipients pee and have sex again?

Yes, they can.

The South African patient had recovered function in the organ – including urination, erection, orgasm and ejaculation – by March this year, less than four months after the transplant surgery. Doctors, who were pleasantly surprised by the fast results, expect sensation to fully return within two years.

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Can they make babies?

In June this year, the South African doctors who performed the world’s first successful penis transplant reported that the recipient had successfully conceived a child with his girlfriend.

So long as a patient’s testicles – where the sperm is generated – are intact, the penis transplant shouldn’t affect his fertility.

(And yes, the patient is the father of the child, not the penis donor.)

How much do these procedures cost?

It certainly isn’t going to be cheap. The US procedure is estimated to cost between $200,000 and $400,000 – on top of donated surgical time.

So there you have it. Penis transplants are a thing. And they’re pretty impressive.

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