Penis transplant a world first, South African surgeons say

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JOHANNESBURG — Surgeons from Stellenbosch University and Cape Town’s Tygerberg Hospital have performed the world’s first successful penis transplant.

The nine-hour operation was performed Dec. 11 on the 21- year-old recipient, who made a full recovery and regained all functions in the transplanted organ, the South African university said in a statement Friday.

The patient, whose identity wasn’t disclosed, had his penis amputated three years ago in order to save his life when he developed complications after a traditional circumcision. There are an estimated 250 penile amputations each year in South Africa stemming from circumcisions, the university said.

“Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery,” said Andre van der Merwe, head of the university’s Division of Urology, who led the team during the operation.

It is the second time this type of operation was attempted and the first time that a successful long-term result was achieved, the university said.

“There is a greater need in South Africa for this type of procedure than elsewhere in the world, as many young men lose their penises every year due to complications from traditional circumcision,” said Van der Merwe.