Meet the wounded veteran who got a penis transplant

Meet the wounded veteran who got a penis transplant

Photographs by Jared Soares Ray almost missed it, the message that would change his life. On a Saturday in March 2018, just as he was about to take his dog for an afternoon walk, he pulled his phone from his pocket and discovered a string of voicemails. Eight years had passed since the bomb had blown up underneath him while he was on patrol in Afghanistan, five since he’d first met his doctor. He’d been on the waiting list a year. He was getting impatient. He dialed back. This is it, he thought. It has to be. A nurse picked up. Ray needed to come to the hospital immediately, she said. They had a donor. He was getting a new penis. Ray had carried his unseen injury for years—always furtive, always anxious, always wondering how anyone who found out might react. Having lost both legs in the blast didn’t bother him that much; Ray often left the house in the summertime wearing shorts, his prosthetics shining in the sun. But his other injury? Aside from his parents, hardly anyone knew—not even the guys he went to war with. For men like Ray who lose their genitals, the usual treatment—if there was any—was phalloplasty: a rolled tube of tissue, blood vessels, and nerves taken from the forearm or thigh and transplanted to the groin, an ersatz penis that needs an external pump to get erect. When he first met with plastic surgeon Richard Redett, an expert in genital reconstruction at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, phalloplasty was what he was offered. But soon after, Redett decided Ray could be a candidate for one of the world’s first full penis transplants. Not a crude substitute; the real thing. “This was actually something that could fix me,” says Ray. “I could go […]

Click here to view full artile at www.technologyreview.com