*A 21-year-old man who lost his organ due to an amputation after a botched circumcision in South Africa has been the successful recipient of the world’s first penis via transplant, according to Reuters.
The nine-hour operation took place in December and was part of a pilot study by Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch to help the 250 or so young South African men who lose their penises each year after coming-of-age rituals go wrong.
Doctors said the patient, a 21-year-old who was not named, had already recovered full urinary and reproductive functions, and that the procedure could eventually be offered to men who have lost their penis to cancer or as a last resort for severe erectile dysfunction.
“Our goal was that he would be fully functional at two years and we are very surprised by his rapid recovery,” Andre van der Merwe, the head of the university’s urology unit who led the operation, said in a statement.
Nine more patients are now in line to have the operation.
Each year thousands of young South African men, mainly from the Xhosa tribe, mark their passage into manhood by shaving their heads and smearing themselves with white clay from head to toe, living in special huts away from the community for several weeks, and then undergoing ritual circumcision.
But many young men die after the initiations rituals. In May 2013, more than 20 youths died in the northerly Mpumalanga province, prompting rare cross-party calls for reform of a traditional practice.
A few months later, several arrests were made by police who suspected murder after 30 young died in coming-of-age rituals in rural Eastern Cape. Unlawful circumcisions have been known to injure up to 300 young men across the province in the space of a week.
Medical circumcisions have been promoted by the South African government over the less safe traditional practices. In 2015, the Department of Health began to study a non-surgical, disposable circumcision device that it believed could also provide a safer alternative.
Though it has yet to be introduced in government hospitals, there is an Israeli device called PrePex that has been endorsed by the World Health Organization. It has been piloted at several non-profit sites across South Africa.