We are all familiar with the hazards of war. Many of us first hand. We have seen the Wounded Warrior ads and how many brave soldiers have lost limbs or been severely injured while on a tour of duty. Recently science has made great strides in prosthetics, offering soldiers state-of-the-art technology to try and help them return to normalcy after being injured. But what about male soldiers who have suffered penile injuries? Up until now, for brave veterans who lost or severely injured their penises the only procedure offered has been “radial forearm free flap phalloplasty. A surgery which takes forearm skin and other tissues in order to construct a makeshift penis.
But all that is about to change. It all stems from the first viable penis transplant performed in 2014. That opened the door for what Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported earlier this week; Johns Hopkins Medicine plans to conduct 60 penis transplants for injured veterans. No doubt if they are a success, then more are to follow.
For the time being, this procedure is being offered exclusively to war veterans with penile injuries. It is said that this surgery can help them grow or start families, thus giving these men a well-deserved second chance at a normal life.
“You have a person who sacrificed part of their life for our society, that is one reason to go ahead.” – Dr. Craig Klugman, DePaul University
We could not agree more. And although veterans are and will likely remain on top of the priority list for these procedures, if they are successful, this will open the door for many other who are interested in such procedures. For example, those interested in sex reassignment surgery.
“We are thinking about how to move forward [with sex reassignment surgeries]; …that requires more discussions,” Dr. Arthur Burnett Johns Hopkins, Urology Professor
JAMA warns us to temper our excitement for these vets. This surgery is still experimental. These first 60 procedures will go a long way in weighing the risks against the benefits. They also note, that patients of the surgery will be at risk of rejection, as is the case with any other transplant of this magnitude. Penis transplant recipients will have to take immunosuppressant drugs for the remainder of their lives. However, it is hope for 60 men who made the ultimate sacrifice so that they can serve their country. And if there is anything our doctors can do to help them have a higher quality of life, then I think we can all agree that we should!