A groundbreaking testicle transplant operation has taken place, raising hopes of potential future operations for transgender patients.
Several of the world’s leading experts in genital surgery performed the pioneering operation for an unnamed cisgender man in Belgrade, Serbia.
The man was born without testicles due to a rare condition, leaving him reliant on injections to receive testosterone, similar to transgender men.
The six-hour operation saw a testicle transplanted from the patient’s twin brother, which will allow him to produce his own testosterone.
The two brothers, who now have one testicle each, are both doing well, transplant surgeon Dr Dicken Ko told The New York Times.
Testicle transplant surgery raises ethical questions over children.
The surgery, which is just the third known transplant of its type, could also have broader applications for transgender people, cancer patients and accident victims.
However, testicular transplant surgery may also raise ethical questions in future, as patients who receive transplanted testicles may one day be able to father children who would genetically be descendants of the donors.
Dr Ko said: “The offspring is technically whose child? It raises much debate in the literature of medical ethics.”
Trans women’s genitals could be transplanted onto men.
Dr Branko Bojovc of Harvard Medical School told the New York Times that his surgical team has already received inquiries from transgender men hoping for a penis or testicle transplant.
Lead surgeon Dr Miroslav Djordjevic told the newspaper that he had developed a plan for performing penis transplants that could help transgender patients.
He said that the genitals of transgender women, which are currently often discarded during gender confirmation surgery, could potentially be repurposed for transplants.
The surgeon added: “We have to do this as soon as possible, to stop putting healthy organs in the garbage.”
There have been several recent breakthroughs in the surgical field, with the world’s first ever full penis and scrotum transplant performed in 2018.
The patient, a young cisgender US army veteran who lost his genitals during combat, received genitals from an unrelated deceased donor.
In that case, doctors decided not to transplant the donor’s testes due to the ethical concerns about potential children.
Transplant procedures have more potential complications outside of identical twins due to the prospect of organ rejection, but immunosuppressant drugs can lower the risk.