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Penis Transplants for Wounded Veterans to Begin in 2016

Courtesy of the [National Cancer Institute/Wikipedia](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Operating_room.jpg).

Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute/Wikipedia.

In 2016, surgeons at Johns Hopkins University will begin attempting penis transplants on troops who were maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Times reports. The surgeries will be the first of their kind in the United States, and are expected to restore limited urinary and sexual function to the men within months of their completion.

“Some [men undergoing the surgery] hope to father children,” Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, chairman of the university’s plastic and reconstructive surgery, told the Times. “I think that is a realistic goal.”

Between 2001 and 2013, 1,367 male service members suffered wounds to the genitals while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, mostly at the hands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). According to Lee and others, such injuries inflict not only the obvious physical damage, but also a heavy mental toll.

“To be missing the penis and parts of the scrotum is devastating,” said Dr. Redett, director of John Hopkins’ pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery. “That part of the body is so strongly associated with your sense of self and identity as a male. These guys have given everything they have.”

Dr. Redett also added that if a surgery is not a success, the transplanted penis will be removed, leaving the patient no worse off than before the attempt. The university has currently given the green light for 60 of the surgeries, and the penises in question will come from deceased donors.

Previously, there have only been two attempts to perform such a surgery. A successful transplant took place in South Africa last year, and a failed attempt took place in China in 2006. But despite the risks involved, many of the wounded are eager to attempt the surgery.

As Scott E. Skiles, a supervisor at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, puts it, “Our young male patients would rather lose both legs and an arm than have a urogenital injury.“

(Source: The New York Times)

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