Wake Forest Baptist’s Penile Transplantation Program

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authored by Mary Clare Day, RN

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is one of a few centers in the U.S. offering penile transplantation to men with a traumatic injury or defect. The procedure is expected to especially benefit the hundreds of military service members who suffered wounds to their genitals from improvised explosive devices while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Until now, the only option for these men was reconstructive surgery, which does not allow for natural erectile function. Penile transplantation shows promise for restoring anatomy and function and helping patients live a normal life. The program combines Urology’s expertise in micro- and reconstructive surgery with Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s experience in penile research.

The Medical Center is one of 21 centers nationwide approved to provide vascularized composite allografts (VCA), which include hand, limb, face and penis transplants. The designation is part of the 2014 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to expand the definition of organs covered under the national organ donor program.

In addition to the penile transplant program, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is conducting research to engineer penile erectile and testicular tissue in the lab as part of the federally funded Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. With the penis program, the goal is to use a patient’s own cells to create erectile tissue that could be used in reconstructive surgery. With this option, there would be no need for the anti-rejection drugs required after a penis transplant. In addition, based on animal studies, it is believes that the tissue will allow for natural erectile function. With the testicular project, miniature testicular tissue has been created and tested in animals. It can secrete male hormones and has the potential to make sperm, providing function similar to a  normal organ.

For more information, contact: Mary Clare Day, RN, Research Nurse Manager,, 336-713-1343.


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