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Cancer Patient First to Receive Penis Transplant in the US

May 17, 2016 08:47 AM EDT
A doctor in China is planning the first full-body transplant in the world by swapping the heads of two human bodies.
(Photo : Scotth23 / Pixabay)

A cancer patient whose penis was removed has become the first person to receive a penis transplant in the United States.

Thomas Manning, a bank courier from Halifax, Massachusetts, underwent the 15-hour operation, otherwise known as the genitourinary vascularized composite allograft (GUVCA) transplant earlier this month. Manning is reportedly doing well after the surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The groundbreaking operation is said to represent the latest frontier in the growing field of reconstructive transplants.

The organ came from a deceased donor through the New England Organ Bank.

"I want to go back to who I was," Manning said in an interview with the New York Times. He said that he felt well and had hardly experienced any pain, propped up in a chair and happy to be out of his bed for the first time after the operation.

"Our courageous patient, Thomas Manning, continues to do well, and we are optimistic about the outcome and future," said Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the leader of the surgical team who operated on Manning.

According to Manning's doctors, the procedure was meant to "reconstruct external genitalia to a more natural appearance, re-establish urinary function and potentially achieve sexual function."

The operation is highly experimental, and only one other patient, who is in South Africa, had undergone this kind of procedure. Unlike traditional life-saving transplants like heart, kidney or liver transplant, reconstructive transplants are done with the purpose of improving the patient's quality of life. Penis transplants are similar to transplants of hands, faces and even the uterus.

This type of transplant has sparked hope among veteran American soldiers who were maimed by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, but will likely require more extensive surgery given the extent of their injuries.

An aggressive penile cancer had led to the removal of Manning's genitals in 2012. He's had one serious complication after the transplant where he began to hemorrhage and was rushed back to the operating room. But since the incident, Manning has been recovering well, he said.

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