What is Involved in Penile Transplant Surgery?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2019
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Penile transplant surgery is a surgical procedure used to attach a functional penis to a man’s body. It involves the connection of blood vessels and nerves from the patient’s body to the penis in order to ensure that the patient will have not only function in the organ but also sensation in it. Some people confuse this surgery with procedures used to give a transsexual a functional penis. The two surgeries are not the same, however, and penile transplants are more likely to be used for men who have lost their penises as the result of injuries or disease.

When the first successful penile transplant surgery was performed in 2005, it was performed on a 44-year-old man. The man suffered the loss of most of his penis in an accident and was left with a small stump. Normal urination and sexual intercourse were impaired as a result. Surgeons in China were able to obtain a donated penis from a young man who had been pronounced brain dead. They were then able to attach it to the 44-year-old man’s body.

Surgery to transplant penises has not yet become common. The first successful operation took 15 hours to complete. Doctors used microsurgery techniques, which involve microscopes and tiny instruments, to ensure the proper connection of the patient’s blood vessels to the transplanted penis. These techniques are also used to connect nerves that are important in the proper functioning of the organ and the return of penile sensation. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves many of the risks common with similar types of surgery, such as infection, blood clots, and nerve damage.

For the most part, penile transplant surgery isn’t much more complex than a surgical procedure for transplanting arms, legs, or hands. Some doctors assert that the questionable side of penile surgery is whether or not the patient will experience a 100-percent return to full function and sensation of the penis. Additionally, patients may have to take medication after these transplants to prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted organ.

Penile transplant surgery is controversial. Some people think it is unethical to take cadaver penises or those from brain-dead donors and attach them to the bodies of transplant patients. Others counter, however, that it is cruel to allow a man to suffer without a vital part of his body if there is a medically sound way of giving him a normal appearance and function once more.

Discuss this Article

Post 39

I am 57 years old have not had a penis for three years. I cut it off myself because I was in deep depression and have regretted it ever since. I would be ever so grateful if I could have a penis again.

Post 37

Hello my name is Allen and my body has been through a lot of medical problems since my accident from a 65 ft. fall from an aircraft carrier. My penis is one of these problems. It has actually gone completely lifeless and it is the size of my thumb. Please help.

Post 35

I would be happy to transplant mine - I'd rather have a clitoris.

Post 34

I am a 64 year old male who underwent a partial penectomy in 2012 due to invasive penile cancer, which left me with about half of what I had before the surgery.

My erect penis is about 3 1/2 inches long, so I am able to achieve penetration and satisfy my wife. The problem is that I am unable to achieve orgasm through any means. I have tried vibrators, tens units and about anything else you can imagine. Masturbation doesn't work either, although I have achieved orgasm maybe six times since the surgery, although the sensation is much, much less, much shorter in duration and the volume of semen is only a fraction of what it was before. Success

is rare and the work involved involves extreme pressure, speed and usually pornography as an aid. Even so, it is almost never successful.

This is the most frustrating thing I have ever dealt with, inasmuch as my sex drive remains undiminished. It is not a "hydraulic" problem, but rather an "electrical" one. A penis is pretty useless as a sexual organ without the head. One does not realize how sensitive the head is, and what an important part it plays in male orgasm until it is gone. Were it not, I suspect, wildly cost-prohibitive, I would have this surgery in a heartbeat. In fact, I've contacted the doc who recently did the recent one in South Africa. No response.

Meanwhile, I am this pseudo-man, with all the drive, and the erectile capability, but no release. It sucks, let me tell you. Were it not for my love for life and my family, I would have seriously considered suicide.

Post 33

I wish for the day that they can attach a penis to my stump.

Post 32

Fabulous! I think any man who needs one should be able to take a donor penis if it is available, healthy and likely to be successful.

What could possibly be wrong with helping someone?

Post 31

I lost my most of my penis. I would jump at the opportunity to have one attached to my stump.

Post 30

I am a 64 year old man who underwent a partial penectomy in 2012 due to invasive penile cancer. I am left with a "stump" which is about half as long as before. More importantly, the removal of the head and about a quarter of an inch down the shaft has left me unable to achieve orgasm through any means - even masturbation. It has changed and ruined my life in many ways. It's not funny or trivial. I would jump at the chance for a transplant, and have contacted the doctor in S. Africa who recently successfully performed this surgery. Still waiting to hear from him.

Post 29

I would say that donating a penis is the noblest, kindest gift a donor could do. The one in need surely must appreciate this bold, progressive action.

Post 26

Anyone who thinks it's wrong really just has never had a penis. Hell, if I die and still have an intact penis, one of you unlucky guys who lost theirs can have mine. I think that first and foremost, donor penises should be given to soldiers, then people injured in accidents, then everyone else.

Post 25

Can you tell me if a penis has any bones? Can it be broken?

Post 23

I am a 61 year old male. Diabetes has taken my once erect and prized penis. It is psychologically disturbing to lose your sexual functionality. This should be common sense. I am amazed to know that there is surgery out there.

Post 22

I'm one of the fortunate men who was blessed with male genitals a good deal larger than average. I've enjoyed the advantage all my life, and one thing that really bothers me is the thought of my treasured big penis (which was named Elmo by a wife) going to waste when I die.

I'm older now, and I think it would be awesome to be able to donate Elmo and my testicles to a guy desperately needing them. It would be a way of sharing my penis, which is something we attempt to do in lovemaking, right? I would be sharing it with someone who needs it and would enjoy it. And besides, I'm a huge narcissist and it would be incredibly fulfilling to see Elmo and my testicles going strong long after I'm gone. I would gladly donate!

Post 20

I am a transman who would love it if this were a possibility for men like myself. I feel like I'm not quite a whole person without having the body parts to match up with my mind's eye. I can only imagine what a genetic male feels like without his. This should be available for anyone in need. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and I know that this could wreak havoc on someone's mental state.

Post 19

I have sustained extensive penile trauma and have a stump now. I need help locating a team of willing surgeons for a transplant.

Post 18

I would love to have two penises if possible, and as far as penis enlargement, if it was possible, I would love to have two 24 inch long penises and six inches thick.

Post 16

I am working with 7 inches. but would like to have 10,11 or 12 inch whopper. I would love to buy one and put it on mine. Guys should be able to sell their penises if they want, just like people sell kidneys.

Post 15

Women have breast reconstruction to feel whole. Why not a man then?

Post 14

@SZapper: You're not personally OK with penile transplants? Fine. Some people don't want to be organ donors. It's a choice. If someone wants to be an organ donor for a penis, fine. Other people should be free to donate what they want.

Post 13

I'm a female who would like a penis. I won't do current "sex change" procedures to have a fake penis grafted out of parts of my arm or thigh; I could only be happy with a real penis. Penis transplants should become more practical -- for guys who need them and for people like me.

Post 12

@SZapper: If the donor was brain dead, having a penis meant nothing to him, but it means a lot to a damaged guy walking around every day trying to act normal.

I'm a guy with a botched circumcision and would be forever grateful if a donor would help me. The gaps in my penis affect me every time I urinate, not to mention while trying to have sex. Unfortunately, I haven't come across a procedure to fix it.

I'd like to find a way to transplant the skin sheath up to the head in one piece. The psychological benefits of a successful surgery would be tremendous. Also, all the doctors in the world need to consider what's really important to parents: a healthy baby or a sexual fetish like circumcision.

Post 11

I am a woman with a husband who needs a penile pump because of complications with diabetes-related ED. This now common procedure has changed our lives. I can't imagine the physical, psychological and emotional challenges that a penile amputee faces every day!

If the patient qualifies, then transplantation is a medically viable and crucial option that should be available to all amputees, regardless of how they find themselves in that position.

I am a female nurse with a background in hospice care and trauma surgery. Passing donors are happy to give, and trauma patients are grateful to receive.

Post 10

I think that penile transplants are more than an important next step. No one would think twice about replacing an eye, an arm, a leg, etc., so why think twice about a penis? Besides, there are a lot of intersexed persons out there who wouldn't mind a penile transplant. These folks were robbed just after birth by archaic doctors who decided a gender for them. Allow them to live a full life as well.

How would you feel if you were robbed or lost your sex organ through no fault of your own? Girls, if for some reason you lost your clitoris, and could get another one, wouldn't you? I am sure you wouldn't just quietly go through life without it. I support penile transplants.

Post 9

I'm a female, and I think that if a man wants to donate his penis to medicine if he dies so that another man can feel whole again, he should. There's nothing wrong with it. Having a penis is very important to a man. I just thought it would be nice to let the men know that most women do understand this.

Post 7

I am a widower whose penis was removed except for a stump due to cancer. Urination is difficult due to testicluar "golden shower" due to a sitting position.

Standing urination is messy but can be done with a funnel. My dates want penetration, which is impossible.

I have no intimacy. My doctor does not understand. He has a penis!

Post 6

@Szapper: If you were a male, you'd realize the penis is one of the most important parts about being a guy. This soldier deserves a replacement. Besides, it's up the recipient and donor what bodily parts should be exchanged. No male would have a problem 're-using' my penis (or heart, liver, etc), nor would I have an issue with that. I'd be glad any guy could function again because of my donation.

Post 4

I'm a malaysian indian. My penis was cut off in a surgery because I was suspected of having cancer. Now I desperately need a penis because I want to get married and I never had sexual intercourse in my life. I hope someone can understand how I feel. I'm sorry, but I'm helpless. Can anybody give me a suggestion? I am desperately waiting.

Post 3

I just learned that my 22 year old son in law lost both legs and his penis from an explosion while serving as a Marine.

He deserves a penis. Only a female would think differently.

Post 2

@JaneAir - You really don't think there is a difference between a penis and a heart? I'm sorry, but I just don't think penile transplant surgery is right.

Imagine how you would feel if one of your family members was the donor in this case? You would probably feel like something wasn't quite right!

I feel like sex is something very personal and a persons sex organs shouldn't be reused after their death. I know I would never be OK with such a thing!

Post 1

I don't think there is anything ethically wrong with a penile transplant surgery. A penis is a body part just like a heart or a liver! I've never heard anyone object to those organs being transplanted.

I think the only reason people object to penile transplants is that the penis is a sex organ. I don't think that should make a difference. Sure, a man could live without his penis, but as the article said, it impairs functioning. And not just sexual function, but going to the bathroom as well.

It doesn't seem fair to make a man live without a penis when there is surgery available to correct the problem.

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