Giving hope of being able to father children to military men in US who have sustained genital injury in the line of duty, a group of doctors in John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland will be offering penis transplant surgeries.
The US's first penis transplants, the surgeries could begin within a year, the doctors said, adding that the individuals would "regain sensation, along with urinary and sexual function, within months."
Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, the chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins, told The New York Times, that the recipients, it is expected, would be able to father children though complete function would not return.
Only the penis not the testes would be transplanted, hence making it possible for the child to be genetically related. The organ would be transplanted from a deceased donor.
The first recipient is a veteran who was injured during a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
"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," Lee said.
According to the Department of Defense Trauma registry, 1,367 men almost all under the age of 35 between 2001-2013 returned with genital injuries.
While missing limbs have become a reality and a ghastly symbol of the wars, the genital injury has been cloaked in shame and stigma. Young veterans would prefer a missing limb than a genital injury, another doctor said to the New York Times.
The surgery is expected to take 12 hours and John Hopkins will be covering the cost of the first transplant, which would cost $200,000 to $400,000. The Defence Department has been approached to cover the cost of the rest.
During the complicated surgery the doctors would be connecting two to six nerves, and six or seven veins and arteries, reported Ars Technica.
The penis transplant has only been successful once, in South Africa, though it has been attempted twice, once before in China.
The Baltimore hospital has permission to perform 60 operations.