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Wounded Veteran to Receive Penis Transplant

U.S. soldiers attend to a wounded soldier at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan June 30, 2015. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)

U.S. soldiers attend to a wounded soldier at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan June 30, 2015. (REUTERS/Omar Sobhani)

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

A wounded military veteran will soon be the first in the United States to receive a penis transplant. This news comes from doctors at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the U.S. state of Maryland.

If successful, the patient could return to having normal urinary and sexual functions. The transplant penis will come from a young deceased male, doctors said.

Dr. Richard Redett is one of the eight Hopkins surgeons on the transplant team. He told the Baltimore Sun newspaper that “it is nice to be able to say that the transplant is finally becoming a reality.”

Redett is part of a large team. Nearly 30 medical personnel will be part of the complicated, 12-hour procedure. The operation will require careful stitching of blood vessels and nerves.

Carisa Cooney is a clinical research manager at Johns Hopkins University. She told the BBC that the hospital had been preparing for the ethical questions such a surgery could bring up.

She said that “for the right patients, this can really improve their quality of life and help them re-enter society.”

With transplant surgeries, the risk of rejection and infection is great. This transplant is no different. To further complicate matters, some anti-rejection drugs can cause serious side effects.

Doctors are the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine say they plan to provide penis transplants to 60 injured veterans as part of a trial. Doctors will monitor those who receive transplants in this trial for five years to determine if the operation is successful.

According to the BBC, research indicates that up to seven percent of combat veterans suffer genital injuries. Many of these injuries come from blasts from improvised explosive devices.

Last year, doctors in South Africa performed the first penis transplant. The patient had received a failed circumcision. Several months after the surgery, the patient was reportedly able to have an erection. This will allow him to father a child.

I’m Anna Matteo.

This story was based on information from Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

urinary – adj. relating to, occurring in, affecting, or constituting the organs concerned with the formation and discharge of urine

deceased – adj. no longer living, especially recently dead individuals; can also be used as a noun < Is the deceased related to you? >

genital – adj. of, relating to, or being a sexual organ

circumcision – n. the religious custom of cutting off of the foreskin of males (also used as a sanitary measure in modern surgery)

erection – n. the state in which a body part (such as the penis) becomes firm because of sexual excitement

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