South African surgeons have created history by performing the world's first successful penis transplant ever.
Doctors from Stellenbosch University and Cape Town's Tygerberg Hospital carried out the tasking nine-hour operation on 11 December last year on a 21-year-old recipient, who has apparently made a full recovery now. The transplanted organ has now regained all functions, the South African university said in a statement on Friday, making the historic incident known to the world.
The patient had his penis amputated three years ago because of complications after a botched circumcision at what has been described as "initiation ceremony".
The transplanted organ was from a deceased donor and the marathon operation was led by Prof Andre van der Merwe, head of SU's Division of Urology at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town.
"Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery," said Van der Merwe in the statement.
"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," he further explained.
Many South African boys and young men have to undergo amputation each year due to certain traditional or religious rituals and ceremonies.
"For a young man of 18 or 19 years, the loss of his penis can be deeply traumatic," said Van der Merwe.
"He doesn't necessarily have the psychological capability to process this. There are even reports of suicide among these young men."
Referring to the donors of the penises as "heroes," he further added:
"They saved the lives of many people because they donated the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin, corneas and then the penis."
Among the team who conducted the transplant was "three senior doctors, transplant coordinators, anesthetists, theatre nurses, a psychologist and an ethicist," the statement said.