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Penis transplant declared successful for the first time in history

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'We've proved that it can be done.'

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For the first time in medical history, a penis transplant has been declared successful, doctors at the Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital in South Africa announced today. The man in question lost the organ three years ago because of complications following a traditional circumcision procedure, Bloomberg reports. But he now appears to have made a full recovery following a nine-hour-long operation in December; his doctors say that his penis is "fully functional."

"It was a privilege to be part of this first successful penis transplant in the world."

"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," Frank Graewe, head of the Division of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery at Stellenbosch University, said in a statement. "It was a privilege to be part of this first successful penis transplant in the world."

This is the world's second penis transplant attempt. The first occurred in China in 2006; it had to be reversed two weeks later because the patient suffered psychological problems following the operation.

The South African man's surgeons expected him to gain full use of the transplanted organ within two years, but he recuperated much sooner than expected. "We are very surprised by his rapid recovery," said Andre Van der Merwe, the surgeon who led the operation and the head of Urology at Stellenbosch University. Penis amputations aren't uncommon in South Africa, because traditional circumcisions can be risky, he added.

"The heroes in all of this for me are the donor and his family," Van Der Merwe said. "They saved the lives of many people because they donated the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin, corneas, and then the penis."

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