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Penis transplant patient to become a father

Doctor behind world’s first successful operation of its kind announces man’s partner is pregnant less than a year after surgery

Friday, June 12, 2015

 Prof Van der Merwe (L) and Prof Rafique Moosa at a press conference in March where they announced the successful penis transplant. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A South African man who had the world’s first successful penis transplant is to become a father less than a year after the breakthrough surgery.

Prof André van der Merwe, who led the operating team, announced that the 21-year-old’s girlfriend was pregnant. “He’s definitely smiling big,” the urologist, based at Stellenbosch University, said on Friday. “He’s proud. He’s also a little bit shy.”

The man’s partner was four months pregnant so the baby could be expected in November, Van der Merwe added. It is not yet known whether it will be a boy or a girl. The man’s mother and sisters have been informed.

The man’s penis was amputated three years ago after life-threatening complications arising from a botched circumcision. His penis had developed gangrene. He was 18 and sexually active at the time.

Van der Merwe had not been worried that he would be infertile, given that his testicles and sperm were not affected. “The pregnancy is not unexpected because this man is having normal intercourse with a partner of quite a few years. But for the recipient, it is a big thing and proof the operation has been a success. I’m happy and I have to thank my whole team.”

The man, whose identity is being kept secret, received his new penis from an organ donor in a nine-hour operation on 11 December at Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town. Van der Merwe said they had discussed beforehand questions such as “Can I have sexual intercourse?” and “Can I have children?” He added: “We’ve ticked all the boxes.”

The professor said that even now there remains some risk of organ rejection. Evidence would include lesions on the skin. “But at the moment the skin is fine. There’s no rejection and he’s doing well,” said Van der Merwe.

The 46-year-old medic has been inundated with requests for his work from around the world but says the need in South Africa is greatest. Every year, thousands of teenage boys from the Xhosa ethnic group undergo circumcision during a traditional rite of passage. While many initiation schools are officially sanctioned, others are unregulated and bogus surgeons are blamed every year for numerous deaths and injuries.

The penis transplant was part of a pilot study to develop a procedure that could be performed in South African hospitals. There are about nine people on the programme and Van der Merwe hopes to perform the next operation before the end of the year if funding is granted.

Nine years ago, a Chinese man had a penis transplant, but his doctors removed the organ after two weeks due to “a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife”.

Source: The Guardian


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