Surgeons in Cape Town have performed the world's first successful penis transplant. The 21-year-old patient, whose identity is not known, undertook the nine-hour procedure after a botched circumcision left him without his member three years ago.
It was expected to take him at least two years to make a full recovery and regain all function of his transplanted organ. But surgeons from Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital announced on 13 March that he was now back to normal.
Professor Andre van der Merwe, head of SU's Division of Urology, said: "We are very surprised by his rapid recovery. It's a massive breakthrough. We've proved that it can be done - we can give someone an organ that is just as good as the one that he had."
The patient had to have his penis amputated in order to save his life after he developed severe complications after a traditional circumcision.
The transplant operation was performed on 11 December 2014 at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town. This was the second time a procedure of this kind was attempted but the first time in history a successful long-term result was achieved.
"South Africa remains at the forefront of medical progress," said Professor Jimmy Volmink, dean of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. "This procedure is another excellent example of how medical research, technical know-how and patient-centred care can be combined in the quest to relieve human suffering.
Up to 250 penises are amputated each year during circumcisions in South Africa. Van der Merwe added: "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."