First Penis Transplant Patient to Become Father

Penis transplant recipient regained functionality long before expected and is set to become a father

Doubts about the effectiveness of the world's first penis transplant have been erased.

Stellenbosch University Urologist Dr. Andre van der Merwe led a team that performed the landmark surgery in March, and he recently announced that the transplant recipient is going to become a father.

The 21-year-old recipient experienced an almost immediate full recovery and restored functionality.

"Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years, and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery," Dr. Van der Merwe told Bloomberg Business in March.

The recipient had undergone a penis amputation three years earlier due to complications that arose from a traditional circumcision.

"There is a greater need in South Africa for this type of procedure than elsewhere in the world, as many young men lose their penises every year due to complications from traditional circumcision," Dr. Van der Merwe explained. "It helps a community of men. These men have lost their penises in traditional circumcision. Nobody talks about them, they're ostracized, they're stigmatized and this is good news for them."

Already, at least nine other men are awaiting similar procedures from Dr. Van der Merwe's team. The clinical trials began in 2010, but it's hard to find suitable organ donors in South Africa due to statutory requirements that the family also consent. The procedure used the penis of a deceased donor, but to get permission to use the organ, Dr. Van der Merwe and team had to use abdominal tissue from the donor to fashion a new penis for the donor to be buried with. 

Despite these difficulties, additional procedures could take place as soon as mid-August, according to South Africa's News 24. The original recipient is still under observation as the surgical teams studies his results and determines whether it needs to make any changes for future transplants.

A penis transplant was performed on a Chinese man in 2006, but the recipient quickly requested that it be removed due to "psychological trauma," reports The Washington Post.