Surgeons in the UK have implanted an 8-inch (20-cm) 'bionic penis' into 43-year-old Mohammed Abad, a Scottish man who lost his own penis and left testicle in a car accident when he was six. And although headlines are calling this a world-first operation, doctors claim that it's actually far more common than people think.
Abad's new penis was constructed over a three-year period using his own skin grafts, and it comes with a mechanical interior that's connected to a fluid pouch. The whole thing is controlled by an on/off button located on Abad's scrotum that pumps fluid into the tube on command to produce an erection. According to the surgeons involved, its function is complete enough for Abad to be able to father a child with his still-intact right testicle.
"When you want a bit of action, you press the 'on' button," Abad told The Sun. "When you are finished you press another button. It takes seconds. Doctors have told me to keep practising." Unfortunately, the implant doesn't respond to sexual stimulus.
As a child, Abad was hit by a car and dragged 180 metres, effectively ripping off his left testicle and penis. The new, impressively proportioned model was implanted during a marathon 11-hour operation at University College London.
But we shouldn't get too caught up in the hype of this being the world's first 'bionic penis', as Elizabeth Kavaler, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Rachael Rettner from Live Science. "It's not a 'bionic penis'; it's a penile implant," she said. "We do this all the time."
In fact, a study published in July stated that around 53,000 men in the US alone have received a penile implant as a result of erectile dysfunction, which can often be caused by prostate removal after cancer, or pelvis and penis trauma. What's different about this case is that Abad required his entire penis to be replaced, not just the inner machinery, so the surgeons took skin grafts from his arm to fashion the outside skin.
Still, it's a pretty impressive operation that will allow Abad to experience an erection and have sex for the first time. He can now even start thinking about having a family of his own, once he masters the implant.
Last year, a 21-year-old man from South Africa received the first successful penis transplant, and in June the surgeons responsible announced that he was about to become a father. Let's hope Abad has similar good luck.