In the span of 12 years, from 2001 to 2013 over 1300 male service members experienced urogenital injuries, 86 of which were documented as severe penile injuries. The average age of these men was just 24. Urination, physical intimacy, and fathering a child for these young men is substantially harder or impossible.
Arthur Burnett, alongside his colleagues, made an announcement in December 2015 that they would begin doing penis transplants for wounded U.S. service members. In 2006, there was a first attempt made in Guangzhou general hospital in China. It was unsuccessful, however; eight years later, a team of surgeons under the direction of Andre van der Merwe in Cape Town South Africa completed the first successful penis transplant. “The 9-hour surgery was a success, and the man has regained sexual function,” van der Merwe said. The actual procedure involves attaching key blood vessels, nerves, the urethra, and the corporeal bodies of the recipient to the donor anatomy. With some time, nerves will regrow about an inch a month, which will restore sensation.
Though this procedure has been successful clinicians are unsure of the risk for a non-lifesaving transplant. The physical risks include; rejection, graft-host disease, and cancer-related to immunosuppression which are wagered against psychological and quality of life benefits.