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First penis transplant in U.S. performed in Boston

Mr Manning, who is not married and does not have any children, said the operation had ‘quite literally saved his life’. ‘In 2012, my life changed forever when I suffered a debilitating work accident, followed by a devastating cancer diagnosis,’ he said, in a statement.

 Today, I begin a new chapter filled with personal hope and hope for others who have suffered genital injuries, particularly for our service members who put their lives on the line and suffer serious damage as a result.’

He added that the ground-breaking surgery allowed him a ‘second chance’ he had never believed was possible. Doctors had first noticed Mr Manning was suffering from cancer after he suffered severe injuries in an accident at work involving heavy equipment. During his treatment, medics noticed a growth on his penis and he was later diagnosed with an aggressive form of penile cancer.
During surgery doctors at the hospital (pictured) connected nerves, veins and arteries from the donor penis to Mr Manning. While it is rare, there are bout 2,030 new cases and 340 deaths expected in the US in 2016, the consequences of the cancer can destroy a sufferer’s life. Many find the loss devastating for their confidence and sense of identity, a feeling Mr Manning can relate to.  He said: ‘Men judge their masculinity with their bodies.’ Dr. Dicken Ko ,a leader in transplants at the hospital, said that not only did genital amputee patients suffer loss of urinary and sexual function, they also suffered a ‘loss of identity.’

To save his life doctors were forced to remove most of Mr Manning’s penis, leaving him with just a stump about one-inch in length. The circumstances of the amputation would be life-altering, he would have to urinate sitting down and could not be intimate with anyone. He said: ‘I wouldn’t go near anybody. I couldn’t have a relationship with anybody. You can’t tell a woman, ‘I had a penis amputation.’

However, Mr Manning never gave up hope of a transplant – despite the fact surgeons had not even considered such a procedure at the time – and a year after his surgery, doctors got in touch. He endured a grueling year of tests and psychological evaluations, but was eventually put on the waiting list and after just two weeks a donor with the right blood type and skin color was found.

During surgery doctors connected nerves, veins and arteries from the donor penis to Mr Manning.  During surgery doctors connected nerves, veins and arteries from the donor penis to Mr Manning and nerves are expected to grow into the organ at the rate of an inch per month. Nerves are then expected to grow into the penis at a rate of about one inch per month, eventually enabling sexual function.

‘We are cautiously optimistic,’ said Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, a leader of the surgical team at Massachusetts General Hospital, ‘It’s still early days but we’re hopeful.’
He added that the patient was already out of bed while emotionally, he was ‘doing amazing.’
However, it was by no means plain sailing from there – after the operation Mr Manning began to hemorrhage and was taken back to the hospital for treatment.
Thankfully, the complication did not prove to be fatal and after recovering he began to dream of getting his love life back and working again.

However, he admits he is still too scared to check out the results of the surgery.
He said: ‘If I’m lucky, I get 75 percent of what I used to be,’ he said. ‘Before the surgery I was 10 percent. But they made no promises. That was part of the deal.’ Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo (pictured), a leader of the surgical team, at Massachusetts General Hospital said transplants can transform and even save lives. Mr Manning, who will be on immuno-suppressants for the rest of his life, has thanked his ‘extraordinary medical team’ at Mass General, ‘who helped not only make this possible, but quite literally saved my life.’

He also thanked the family of the donor, ‘whose wonderful gift has truly give me the second chance I never thought possible.’ ‘I thank my mother for standing by my side and helping me through each step of the way,’ he added. ‘In sharing this success with all of you, it’s my hope we can usher in a bright future for this type of transplantation.’ Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of the New England Organ Bank, said that the transplant was made possible because the donor family had the strength to look past its own grief and see the ability to help someone in need.

‘To this donor family, we offer our thoughts as they struggle with their loss and our humble thank you, deep appreciation and admiration for the humanity they showed,’ Glazier said at the conference. ‘They wish the recipient to know that they feel blessed and are delighted to hear his recovery is going well and are praying that his recovery continues.’ While Mr Manning is breaking ground in the US he is by no means the first to have such an operation worldwide.

Last year a 21-year-old man in South Africa underwent nine-hours of surgery to have a donor member attached, after he was left with just a 1cm stump for a penis due to a botched circumcision. Miraculously after his life-changing surgery he later announced he had impregnated his partner. However, not all of the donations have a happy ending – sadly ten years ago, a man in China received a transplant, but asked surgeons to remove the donated penis two weeks after the operation. Back in the United States another patient will hope to benefit from the same surgeons that helped Mr Manning.

The patient’s penis was destroyed by burns in a car accident and he is now waiting for a transplant, while surgeons at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, are hoping to operate on a combat veteran who suffered injuries in Afghanistan. Armed forces veterans are a concern in the United States due to the alarming rise in suicide rates  involving those with severe penile injuries. The estimated cost of the operations can be as much as $75,000 but Johns Hopkins and Massachusetts General are footing the bill and the doctors are working for free.

In particular armed forces veterans are a concern in the United States due to the alarming rise in suicide rates that effect those with damage to their penises – from 2001 to 2013, 1,367 suffered such injuries. Dr. Cetrulo said that a transplant can save a life. ‘They’re 18- to 20-year-old guys, and they feel they have no hope of intimacy or a sexual life,’ he said of the veterans. They can’t even go to the bathroom standing up.’

‘We are hopeful that these reconstructive techniques will allow us to alleviate the suffering and despair of those who have experienced devastating genitourinary injuries and are often so despondent they consider taking their own lives,’ said Cetrulo, of the MGH Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Transplant Center. ‘The entire transplant team has worked tirelessly to ensure that our patient is on the path to recovery, thanks in part to the gift of organ donation.’

The doctor said he hoped that the pioneering surgery, which had been inspired by wounded veterans, will become ‘a common part of reconstructive surgery moving forward.’

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