The recipient of the world's first successful penis transplant will soon be a father, according to the South African outlet News24. His surgeons were recently informed that his girlfriend is pregnant.
The surgery took place just six months ago, three years after the 21-year-old had lost his own organ after infection caused by a botched ceremonial circumcision. Stellenbosch University urologist, Prof. Andre van der Merwe, who led the historic surgical team, explained at a March news conference that South Africa has a particular need for such a surgery: Members of the Xhosa ethnic group often practice adult circumcision, and poor sanitation leads to some 250 amputations every year.
To get permission to use the penis that has now facilitated a pregnancy, van der Merwe's team had to fashion a new one out of abdominal skin for the deceased donor to be buried with. One day soon, we may not need donors at all: Last year, researchers reported progress in lab-grown penises built with the recipient's own cells to avoid organ rejection.
Getting the thing attached successfully was quite the feat, too. From an earlier post:
It's no small thing to reattach any organ, and sexual organs have added psychological implications. If the function (both urinary and sexual) and appearance aren't just right, the recipient has to deal with the implications of having a troublesome foreign object where his penis should be.
Even if everything is working physically, the psychological trauma can sometimes be too much to bear. That's what happened to the Chinese patient who could have been the first successful recipient: In 2006, 10 days after a physically successful surgery, the man asked doctors to remove his new organ.
But the patient is reportedly doing well, and the organ is apparently functioning well enough for reproductive purposes. Van der Merwe and his team continue to monitor the young man, and may attempt further surgery to improve upon the penis's functionality sometime in the next few months.
Less than a year ago, doctors reported that a woman with a transplanted uterus had given birth to a healthy baby, and that other patients who'd had the same procedure were expected to follow suit shortly. And days ago, doctors announced a successful birth for a woman who'd had long-frozen ovarian tissue -- from when she was just 13 -- transplanted back into her body over a decade later.