Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery— Prof. Andre Van der Merwe
In a ground-breaking operation, a team of pioneering surgeons from Stellenbosch University (SU) and Tygerberg Hospital performed the first successful penile transplant in the world.
The marathon nine-hour operation, led by Prof André Van der Merwe, head of SU’s Division of Urology, was performed on 11 December 2014 at Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, Cape Town.
This is the second time that this type of procedure was attempted, but the first time in history that a successful long-term result was achieved.
The patient, whose identity is being protected for ethical reasons, has made a full recovery and has regained all function in the newly transplanted organ.
The procedure was part of a pilot study to develop a penile transplant procedure that could be performed in a typical South African hospital theatre setting.
“There is a greater need in South Africa for this type of procedure than elsewhere in the world, as many young men lose their penises every year due to complications from traditional circumcision,” explains Van der Merwe.
Three years ago the 21-year-old recipient’s penis had to be amputated in order to save his life when he developed severe complications after a traditional circumcision.
Prof. van der Merwe spoke to John Maytham about this extraordinary achievement:
Below is a video outlining the world first transplant, courtesy of Stellenbosch University