After 17 years without a penis, an unnamed patient in South Africa, 40, became the world’s third successful penis transplant. The man originally lost his penis due to complications from a routine circumcision.
Interestingly, there is a “coluor discrepancy” between the transplanted penis and the patient, though doctors will resolve that with medical tattooing later this year.
Professor Andre Van der Merwe, who heads the urology department at Stellenbosch University, led the 10-hour surgery at Tygerberg Hospital. The patient is doing well, and is quietly recovering under the watchful eye of the doctors there. “He is certainly one of the happiest patients we have seen in our ward…there are no signs of rejection and all the reconnected structures seem to be healing well,” Van der Merwe remarked.
Although this is the third time that a penis transplant has been performed, it is still risky. Van der Merwe recalled years of painstaking research and careful experimentation before he attempted surgery on a live patient, according to the Daily Mail.
This kind of surgery, which is drastically different than a kidney or liver transplant, borrows techniques from facial or hand transplants. These procedures require the reattachment of blood vessels, veins, and arteries. Even in best case scenarios, patients will be subjected to a lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs.
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However, Van der Merwe’s groundbreaking operation is considered a great success in the medical community. His patient is expected to regain urinary and reproductive functions within six months, and the color issue between the organ and the recipient can be fixed within eight months.
Numerous men could benefit from a surgery like this; botched circumcisions frequently occur in countries where medical standards and hygiene are lacking. Van der Merwe hopes that the success of his procedure could eventually be extended to men who have lost their penises from cancer.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health