(CNN) Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital performed the first U.S. penis transplant, they said Monday, calling it a “landmark procedure.”
Thomas Manning, 64, is recovering well after the 15-hour procedure performed earlier this month, according to the hospital. Manning, of Halifax, Massachusetts, had his penis amputated after he was diagnosed with penile cancer in 2012.
The procedure, described by the doctors as a “surgical milestone,” is called a gentitourinary vascularized composite allograft, or GUVCA.
It involves “surgically grafting the complex microscopic vascular and neural structures of a donor organ onto the comparable structures of the recipient.”
Put another way, “surgeons connected the intricate vascular and nerve structures of a donor penis with those of the 64-year-old transplant recipient,” the hospital said. The surgeons said their goals were to reconstruct the genitalia giving it a natural appearance and to re-establish urinary and possibly sexual function.
Although Manning is still healing from the surgery, his doctors said there are no signs of bleeding, rejection or infection and are cautiously optimistic that he will regain function.
“Today I begin a new chapter filled with personal hope and hope for others who have suffered genital injuries, particularly for our service members who put their lives on the line and suffer serious damage as a result,” Manning said in a statement provided by the hospital. He also expressed gratitude to his family and his medical team, as well as to the family of the donor.
“We are hopeful that these reconstructive techniques will allow us to alleviate the suffering and despair of those who have experienced devastating genitourinary injuries and are often so despondent they consider taking their own lives,” said Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
He led the transplant team with urologist and transplant surgeon Dr. Dicken S.C. Ko. They worked with doctors in infectious disease, psychiatry and social work and with the New England Organ Bank to identify a suitable donor.
Previously, doctors at Johns Hopkins said they hoped to be the first team in the United States to accomplish this procedure in a clinical trial for veterans launched last year. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is also approved to perform the procedure.
In December 2014, doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa performed the first penis transplant in a nine-hour operation.
The patient was a 21-year-old man whose penis was amputated after severe complications from a circumcision during a coming-of-age ceremony.
Doctors waited three months to declare the surgery a success once his urinary and reproductive functions were restored. In June the man had successfully impregnated his girlfriend.
The statement from Massachusetts said it “holds promise for patients with devastating genitourinary injuries and disease.”
There is currently one patient on the waiting list for a penile transplant in the United States, Anne Paschake, public relations manger for the United Network for Organ Sharing, told CNN.