Massachusetts General Hospital said Monday it has performed the nation's first penis transplant.
Last week, during the 15-hour procedure, surgeons connected the intricate vascular nerve structures of a donor penis with those of the transplant recipient.
Cancer patient Thomas Manning, 64, of Halifax, Massachusetts, received the transplant.
"Today, I began a new chapter filled with hope," Manning said in a statement read by his long-time physician, Adam Feldman, MD, at a press conference Monday at Mass General. He thanked his doctors, and the donor, saying the procedure "quite literally saved my life."
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The donor's family said in a statement that it feels "blessed" that Manning's recovery is going well and is praying for his recovery to continue.
"The donation has been uplifting to their family as it is helping them get through this difficult time," said Alexandra Glazier, president and CEO of the New England Organ Bank.
The surgical team was led by Curtis Cetrulo, MD, and Dicken Ko, MD.
"We're all extremely proud of this accomplishment, 3-1/2 years in the making," said Jay Austin, the hospital's chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery. "Our courageous patient, Thomas Manning, continues to do well and we are optimistic about his future."
Cetrulo told The New York Times that normal urination should be possible for Manning in a few weeks, with sexual function possible in weeks to months.
"He's doing well so far. He's up and about, out of bed," Cetrulo said at Monday's press conference. "So far, we're doing OK."
As for the possibility of rejection, he said, "It's uncharted waters. He has not had rejection episodes. We'll just have to take it day by day and see how it goes."
Cetrulo said the hope is that long term, this type of procedure can become as common as a hand or face transplant.
"We're hopeful that with these successes going forward, we can open it to expanded patient populations like wounded warriors," he said.
Cetrulo and Ko said it is also possible down the line that this type of procedure could be made available to transgendered individuals seeking to transition.
"We have a lot to learn about this procedure and we have a lot to gain from further experiences over time before we can make that type of leap forward," Ko said.
Manning is expected to be released from Mass General in the next three to four days to continue his recovery at a step-down facility.
The world's first successful penis transplant was performed in South Africa in December 2014. That patient had his penis amputated three years earlier after complications from a circumcision performed in his late teens.
The university near Cape Town said in announcing the transplant in March 2015 that the 21-year-old patient, whose name was not released, made a full recovering following the nine-hour surgery and regained all function in the transplanted organ.
A man in China received a penis transplant in 2005. That operation also appeared to be successful, but doctors said the man asked them to remove his new penis two weeks later because of psychological problems experienced by him and his wife.