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Doctors just performed the world’s first penis transplant, and it’s no laughing matter

People on Twitter made jokes about the penis transplant surgery. But the story behind it is tragic.


Dylan Love


Posted on Mar 13, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 7:45 am CDT

On Friday, it was reported that doctors at the University of Stellendosch in South Africa have successfully completed a penis transplant following a nine-hour surgery.

The 21-year-old recipient of the new organ, whose name is not being released, has regained full functionality of his new member, which means he can urinate, have an erection, and ejaculate. But he has yet to regain full sensation in his penis, and doctors hypothesize that this could take years.

This is not the first time doctors have performed a penis transplant surgery. In 2006, doctors performed a penis transplant on a Chinese man who had been injured in an accident, only to have his body reject the new organ.

But instead of celebrating the medical magic of penis transplant surgery, most people on social media have reacted to the news with teasing and mockery.

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The fact that most people are mocking the surgery is particularly shocking, given why the man needed it in the first place: He was the recipient of a botched circumcision, which permanently damaged his penis.

Unfortunately, this botched circumcision was not an isolated incident in South Africa. According to the Guardian, many members of South African tribes are circumcised during traditional initiation ceremonies, which are largely unsupervised. Experts estimate that at least 250 men lose their penises as a result of complications from the procedure.

At the time of his circumcision, the young man was a sexually active 18-year-old male, and an error with the cutting implement left him with just one centimeter of his penis. Dozens, or reportedly hundreds, of young men are similarly injured or die each year as a result of such rites.

So lest there be any confusion among Twitter users that the man underwent an unnecessary surgical procedure to prop up his male vanity, let it be known there are many terrible side effects of penis loss and removal—including, just for starters, no longer having a penis. 

H/T The Guardian | Photo via robin_24/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Mar 13, 2015, 7:45 pm CDT