World’s first successful penile transplant performed in Cape Town
15 March 2015, 08:55
Cape Town - The University of Stellenbosch’s faculty of medicine and health sciences on Friday announced the performance of the world’s first successful penile transplant.
The Stellenbosch University health faculty described the procedure as a ground-breaking transplant operation, as doctors successfully transplanted a penis to a human being at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town on 11 December 2014.
"It’s the first time success was achieved with such a procedure," the SU Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences said.
"South Africa remains at the forefront of medical progress," said Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean of SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).
"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.
"It shows what can be achieved through effective partnerships between academic institutions and government health services."
The operation, led by SU’s Division of Urology head Prof Andre van der Merwe, lasted a marathon nine-hours.
The announcement comes three months after the initial procedure, this being the first time a successful long-term result was observed after one previous attempt in the medical community failed.
"Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery," says Van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe was also assisted by Prof Frank Graewe, head of the Division of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery at SU FMHS, and Prof Rafique Moosa, head of the FMHS Department of Medicine, as well as other support staff.
"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," says Graewe. "It was a privilege to be part of this first successful penis transplant in the world."
The 21-year-old patient, whose identity is being protected for ethical reasons, had to have his penis amputated three years ago after a traditional circumcision caused severe complications, threatening his life.
Doctors also fashioned a penis from abdominal skin for the donor, so he could be buried with something that appeared to be a penis.
Nine other patients will receive penile transplants following the success of this first procedure, with transplantation a possibility for issues such as penile cancer and severe erectile dysfunction.
News24’s Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath was at the press briefing at Tygerberg Hospital on Friday to cover the historic moment.