Calcutta, Feb. 20: In a surgery that doctors claimed was the first in medical history, the male sex organ was transplanted from a boy born with two onto another who had entered the world without one.
The three-hour transplant was done on a seven-month-old boy in the paediatric surgery department of Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital here yesterday.
The organ was taken from a one-year-old boy blessed with two genitals. Their blood groups and tissue types matched, enabling the doctors to carry out the operation. Both were on way to recovery from the surgery.
A few months ago, a one-year-old child from Shantipur in Bengal’s Nadia district was admitted by his parents in the hospital. He was an unusual baby, said doctors, with two external male genitals with normal growth and scrota but no rectum. He needed immediate surgery.
Two weeks ago, the boy was put under the scalpel as surgeons reconstructed a rectum. “After the successful first surgery, we set our sights on the second stage which involved removing the extra male member in another operation,” Ashok Ray, a member of the faculty at the paediatric surgery department, said.
A week ago, another baby was brought into the hospital without a penis and with a urethra that opened into the rectum.
It then struck the department’s doctors that they could be on their way to medical history. “Why not take the extra one from the first boy and do a makeover with that on the unfortunate one'” Ray said.
A kero-typing test on the penis-less child brought forth a 46-XY report, which confirmed that the baby was a male child; all other internal organs, including the two scrota, were in order.
The more difficult part began then. The medical team scouted every available medical journal and scanned every relevant web page to look for precedents but found none. All other tests, however, showed the transplant could be done and Wednesday was decided as the day for a date with history.
Hours after the surgery, it appeared that it had gone according to plan.
“It is amazing the way things unfolded in the last few days. It was at the suggestion of a close friend that we decided to come here at NRS Hospital. Perhaps, it was God’s will,” said Tapati Dhara, the mother of the boy on whom the transplant was done.
“To ensure good health and prevent rejection of any form, we have kept the child with the transplanted penis on medication and are maintaining a close vigil,” a member of the medical team said.
Eminent Calcutta paediatrician B.K. Manocha said he had never heard of such a transplantation before. “I, at least, have never come across such a case.”
Subir Chatterjee, founder of the paediatric surgery department at NRS, echoed Manocha. “This must be a very rare operation,” he said. Chatterjee, who retired from NRS a few years ago, said he would have to “look up medical data” to confirm whether such surgeries had taken place outside India.