News spells success for team of doctors behind penis transplant.
After undergoing the first ever penis transplant last December, a South African man says his girlfriend is now expecting their baby. The claim stunned and delighted Professor Andre van der Merwe of the University of Stellenbosch, the man who led the team of doctors who performed the surgery. The Professor points out that the pregnancy is proof positive that the operation was a complete success. The recovery time from the procedure was initially hoped to be two years, so Merwe is quite surprised by the man’s quick recuperation. He tells us the man has no reason to lie about his condition or status as a future father, so a paternity test will not be performed.
This tale of success was spawned by a potentially lethal tribal tradition.
Professor Merwe has said that news of the man’s fatherhood marked a milestone in his life, and that similar operations will hopefully be performed in the future. The procedure was part of a pilot study by Tygerberg Hospital and the University of Stellenbosch meant to help the young South Africans who lose their penises in failed coming-of-age rituals. There are an estimated 250 such cases per year, mostly from the Xhosa tribe. Their coming-of-age ritual consists of shaving their heads and smearing their whole bodies with white clay, living in designated huts separated from the community for weeks, then undergoing circumcision. In May 2013, over 20 young men died as a result of such a ritual, with 30 more dying in a different province a few months later from the same cause. Although the ritual circumcision is outlawed, enough tribesmen practice the ritualistic circumcision that up to 300 young men have been injured in just a week.
More penis transplants will likely follow.
Perhaps as a result of the ritual, which is being reformed, there are nine more men currently signed up for the penis transplant operation. Professor van der Merwe hopes it will one day also be available to men who lost penises to cancer, or even as a last resort for those who suffer from extreme erectile dysfunction.
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