Breakthrough penis transplant gives glimpse of future in organ transplantation

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–The evolution of organ transplantation is quickly advancing–most notably in life-enhancing transplants.

In recent years, complicated procedures have included a full face, a uterus, and now, the first penis transplant in the U.S. at Massachusetts General in Boston. Doctors say the 64-year-old patient is doing well.

“We are cautiously optimistic. It’s still early days. It’s still early in his course and we’ve learned a lot already. But we are hopeful that with this kind of experimental surgery that we can learn enough to make it safe and routine,” says Dr. Curtis Cetrulo.

The Chief of the Transplantation Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Dr. David Mulligan, says improved anti-rejection drugs and fine-tuned surgical skills are behind these type of transplants.

“We can sew ends of blood vessels together under a microscope using very, very fine threads and needle in order to make this work,” he said.

At Yale-New Haven Hospital, kidney transplants are the norm, but they expect more to come.

“I think we have a few other organs to transplant that we haven’t transplanted yet,” Mulligan said. “The one we are working on here at Yale is the uterus transplant.”

The most exciting level of breakthroughs he predicts could come within the decade, with the use of a 3-D bio-printer. Yale School of Medicine has one.

It could lead to duplicating or growing a new organ out of the body’s own cells.

He explains, “So that then we can take that new organ without hours of starting the cellular generation process, and then use that to transplant into a person who won’t even need immuno-suppression because it’s their own cells.”

Already, researchers are making significant advances.

Dr. Mulligan says, “Right now, within about eight to nine minutes, we can print fully branched vessels with all the layers they need to have in order to be functional.”

Despite all this, Dr. Mulligan stresses the critical need of organ donation – with thousands of people on the list — waiting for the gift of life.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s