In a path breaking feat in medical history, a team of doctors from the Tygerberg Academic Hospital and the Stellenbosch University performed a successful penis transplant. This is the first medical center in the world to perform the rare medical procedure successfully, twice in a row.
The operation lasted for nine and a half hours and was conducted on April 21 at the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Stellenbosch University's professor André Van der Merwe headed the surgery, which was performed on a 40-year-old male. The patient lost his penis 17 years back because of a traditional circumcision going wrong. The patient's identity is being protected for ethical reasons.
"He is doing remarkably well. There are no signs of rejection and all the reconnected structures seem to be healing well," Van der Merwe noted.
The doctors and surgeons expect the patient to regain sexual and urinary functions using the newly-transplanted organ within the next six months.
However, the transplanted penis' does not match the recipient's skin color. To correct this issue, the doctors will resort to medical tattooing six to eight months after the surgery. It is likely that over one session will be required.
Doctors Perform Successful Second Penis Transplant
The South African medical team that performed the penis transplant included Stellenbosch University's Van der Merwe and Alexander Zühlke, who is the head of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the university's FMHS. Tyberg Hospital's Dr Zamira Keyser and FMHS' Rafique Moosa and Amir Zarrabi also assisted in the surgery.
The team of surgeons were helped by anesthetists, nurses, transplant coordinators, an ethicist, a psychologist, and other support staff. The same team is credited with performing the world's first penis transplant in December 2014. After over two years, the doctors say that the patient is doing "extremely well, both physically and mentally."
Western Cape's health minister Nomafrench Mbombo congratulated the team of surgeons and staff of Tygerberg Hospital for making this feat possible. He also admitted that traditional circumcision led to the death of quite a few young South Africans.
What Is Medical Tattooing?
While people would be familiar with traditional tattooing, the process is also used in the medical field thanks to technological advancements. Basically, reconstructive medical tattooing uses micro-dermal pigments to enhance the look of an individual's medical-related imperfections.
One of the most common and well-known medical tattooing applications is areola and nipple reconstruction post mastectomy. This process aids the patient in regaining confidence and boost's their self-esteem post the surgery.
Another benefit of medical tattooing is that it camouflage's unsightly scars that occur post a burn wound, surgery, or accident. Medical tattooing can also be used for camouflaging white skin patches or vitiligo. This is done with the aid of pigments that are skin colored. The technique is also used in the restoration of hair that one loses because of diseases such as alopecia or cancer.
According to the doctors who performed the procedure on the 40-year-old man, medical tattooing can be used for penis transplant as well. It can be used if a color difference exists between the recipient's skin and the donated penis — as in the case of the latest surgery. However, doctors caution that only a tattoo artist specializing in medical tattooing should perform the procedure.
Penile Mutilation In Africa
Penile mutilation is a common traditional practice in South Africa. It is not that common in any other part of the world due to the complications associated with the practice. In penile mutilation, the penis of young men undergoes circumcision as a traditional rite of passage in some cultures.
Currently, no official record on the number of penile mutilations conducted in Africa exists. However, a study states that there are roughly 55 cases of traditional penile mutilation in the country's Eastern Cape alone. Experts believe that approximately 250 total and partial penile amputations are carried out in the country each year.