Steven C. Bonawitz, MD, FACS, head of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Cooper University Health Care, was among the team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons that performed the world’s first total penis and scrotum transplant. The 14-hour surgery took place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on March 26.
The transplant recipient, an Afghanistan war veteran who was severely injured by a roadside bomb, was the recipient of a donated penis and scrotum and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor.
Dr. Bonawitz, who has extensive experience in reconstructive microsurgery, maintains adjunct faculty status at Johns Hopkins and has been part of the organization’s Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation program and research team in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery for many years.
In this landmark case, Dr. Bonawitz served as a member of the recipient medical team which removed damaged and scarred tissue from the patient and located and prepared the recipient vessels to receive the transplanted tissue. The procedure differed from previous attempts at this type of transplantation at other hospitals. It was based on extensive anatomic research done at Johns Hopkins to precisely define the vascular anatomy and blood supply to the area transplanted. The team had met for over a year to rehearse the procedure numerous times in the lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“It was a very humbling experience to be able to participate as a member of a team of this caliber and to be able to help someone who had given so much through his own service,” said Dr. Bonawitz. “Advances like this offer the hope of returning to a more normal life following devastating injuries.”
Not all patients with similar injuries are suitable candidates for this kind of procedure due to potential complications and lifelong immunosuppression therapy.
Dr. Bonawitz said, “Efforts to find solutions to these injuries, coupled with research into new methods that promote immune tolerance are making it possible for reconstructive surgeons to offer options that better restore the whole individual.”
For more information about the procedure: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/johns_hopkins_performs_first_total_penis_and_scrotum_transplant_in_the_world
Wendy A. Marano
Public Relations Manager