South African doctors perform world's first successful penis transplant

The 21-year-old patient was returned to full reproductive and urinary function after the operation. BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS

The first ever successful penile-transplant has been carried out by doctors in South Africa, returning full reproductive and urinary function to a patient who was forced to have a life-saving penile amputation following a botched circumcision.

The 21-year-old patient – whose identity is being withheld – made a quick recovery, returning to full function after only a few months, stunning doctors who thought a full recovery would take two years.

The team leader Professor André van der Merwe – who is head of Stellenbosch University’s Division of Urology – called it a “massive breakthrough.”

The operation itself lasted for nine hours with the team using similar techniques to those used for the first facial transplant – microscopic surgery connecting small blood vessels and nerves. Plans for the transplant began five years ago and Professor van der Merwe was assisted by a team of professors, transplant coordinators, anaesthetists, theatre nurses, a psychologist and an ethicist along with support staff.

Read more: South African Man Has World’s First Successful Penis Transplant.