Tom Manning stepped up to the toilet, dropped his pants and tried something he hadn’t done in four years: peeing while standing up. For the 65-year-old, who had undergone the first American penis transplant a few weeks earlier, it was a key test for whether the surgery was a success. So when his stream of urine hit the target, Manning gleefully communicated the news to his doctor — who was standing on the other side of the door — by shouting, “All right!”
Manning and a team of 13 surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital made history in May when they completed the 15-hour procedure. But how he ended up on the operating table and what has happened to him since are just as fascinating, as explained in Josh Dean’s article in the March issue of Esquire, “This is the Story of America’s First Penis Transplant.”
For starters, Dean explains, Manning wouldn’t be alive today if he hadn’t slipped down a slushy ramp in Boston in 2012 and gotten crushed by some of the heavy boxes he’d been pushing in a cart. It was only because of that freak accident that he went to see a doctor. That’s when he was diagnosed with penile cancer. The best option for survival? Amputation.
Pretty much immediately, Manning got obsessed with the idea of a transplant.
He talked about it incessantly and even studied anatomy from a medical textbook. So when he was offered the chance to get one, notwithstanding some rather unpleasant possible outcomes, Manning’s response was “Let’s do it.” He was undeterred even when pre-op tests revealed that he had a calcified aortic valve, which meant he would need open-heart surgery a few months after the transplant.
“Manning knows he is one of the unluckiest men in America, and also one of the luckiest,” Dean writes.
Now that the transplant is done, Manning also knows that he will forever have a new identity — because of the media attention, he jokingly calls himself “Thomas J. Penis.” He’s taking Cialis in the hope of regaining sexual function and, as Dean notes, he must take 40 other pills a day “to help protect his new penis from his body, and his body from infection.” The side effects include shakes so powerful that his signature “looks like the readout from a Geiger counter,” Dean writes.
So where does he go from here? Maybe Washington. When he’s fully recovered, Manning’s doctors would like him to visit Walter Reed, where he could meet with injured veterans who are also candidates for penis transplants.