February 18, 2016—A wounded veteran of the War in Afghanistan will receive the first penis transplant in the US at Johns Hopkins Hospital as soon as a deceased donor can be found and his family give permission. If all goes well, 60 other veterans with genital injuries from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be next in line.
“In response to a surge of such catastrophic injuries, the army dispatched a urological surgeon from Walter Reed to Bagram in 2010. Six months later, in March 2011, a navy commander stepped into that position. It was his first deployment to a war zone.”
“After two months at Bagram, he told me, ‘Nothing in my experience prepared me for the catastrophic nature of these injuries.'”
In two months, the Navy surgeon performed 20 such surgeries, but the worst was his first.
“His first surgical patient…was a young soldier who had stepped on an IED, triggering an upward blast that destroyed his legs and left his pelvic cavity ‘hollowed out.’ His urinary system was in shreds. His testicles were destroyed. His penis was attached to his body by only ‘a little thread of skin.’ That first surgery, the doctor said, was ’emotional’ for everyone on the surgical team. ‘To have to amputate that boy’s penis and watch it go into the surgical waste container—it was emotional.'”
“The kind of injuries—you don’t have any idea of the devastation until you see it up close. This has been eye opening. It’s given me a new understanding of the costs of armed conflict. Even being in the military, I didn’t know,” the urological surgeon told Ann Jones.
“Keeping even part of his genitals is a psychological break for the soldier, but since the testicles produce testosterone, he still faces the inevitable ill effects of a deficient supply—a long and imperfectly understood list headed by osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems including coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis, erectile dysfunction with its attendant psychological difficulties, low sperm count impairing fertility, obesity, depression, and a lifetime seesaw of hormonal treatment.”
“It has been reported that in the year or so after President Obama took office in 2009, only about a dozen soldiers lost their penises and testicles to IEDs or subsequent amputations, while about 50 lost part of the penis and another 150 lost one or both testicles.”
“[Numbers rose] dramatically [in Afghanistan] with the Obama ‘surge’ of 2010. By early 2012, 3,000 soldiers had been killed by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 31,394 wounded. Among the wounded were more than 1,800 soldiers with severe damage to their genitals. Asking the Department of Defense for an update on the statiststics in July 2013, I was told I would have to file a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act. Evidently, the new numbers are high enough to be made hard to get.”
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