By the time Tom Manning got the phone call from a doctor at Mass General hospital in Feb. 2016, he’d been living without a penis for nearly four years. A devastating injury to his groyne brought Manning to the hospital in Jan. 2012, and while there, doctors discovered a tumour — and aggressive penile cancer. A new story from Esquire follows the path that led Manning to regain a penis in what was the first ever successful penile transplant in America.
Before Manning received his penis transplant in May 2016 at Mass General, the procedure had only ever been successfully executed in other countries. But two doctors at the hospital — Dr Dicken Ko and Dr Curtis Cetrulo — were determined to attempt one in the United States. They’d just received approval and funding for the procedure from Mass General when the doctor who’d helped Manning through his penile surgery and subsequent surgeries told them he knew a man who’d be very interested in being the first penis transplant patient.
Before exploring the possibility of penis transplants, the best doctors could offer a man who’d lost his penis was a reconstruction that involves taking tissue from the thigh or forearm and rolling it into a phallic tube:
“The resulting ‘penis’ resembles tubed deli meat and is prone to infection,” reports Esquire. “Though many recipients do experience the return of erotic sensation, they cannot achieve an erection without a prosthetic implant. Patients often have difficulty urinating while standing. They’re rarely able to have intercourse.”
According to Esquire’s report, two families were approached by a U.S. organ bank in May 2016 about donating their loved ones’ penis, and both said yes. One man was a perfect match for Manning, and he went into the arduous transplant surgery on May 8 and 9. The procedure took 15 hours, and when Manning woke up and finally gathered the courage to look down, “it appeared to him as though his groyne had been mangled in a car wreck.” After 3.5 weeks recovering in the hospital, Manning went home with a healthy, functional penis.
The transplant was deemed a success — Manning is once again able to pee standing up — but he and his team of doctors are still waiting for him to regain the ability to get an erection. The years spent without a penis, and subsequently, no use of the muscles used to get and sustain an erection, have possibly left the tissues necessary to have an erection too weak to function. “The sensation is there,” Manning told Esquire, “but it’s nothing like it was before.”
You can read the full story of Manning’s historic mission to regain a penis on Esquire.