Credit: Screen grab from YouTube
Transgender Man’s Dream of Getting a Penis Turns Into a Nightmare After Horrific Malfunction

Transgender Man’s Dream of Getting a Penis Turns Into a Nightmare After Horrific Malfunction

A transgender man’s dream of having a penis turned into a years-long nightmare after the organ doctors created for him malfunctioned.

According to write-up this month in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors in 2014 fashioned the phallus for the unnamed patient, then aged 18 or 19, using flesh from his forearm. The authors said that technique is the “gold standard” for transgender men but usually results in complications.

In this case, the patient’s urethra – the duct that carries urine along the penis – was so badly scarred that he could not properly pee. A year after the phalloplasty, doctors had to remove part of his urethra, forcing him to relieve himself through a tube into a bag.

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The connection between the patient’s urethra and the tube then became constricted and filled with salty stones, again blocking his urine. The Cleveland Clinic explains that this kind of blockage causes “pain that may be severe.”

Forced to improvise, the authors in 2016 performed yet another surgery at their university hospital in Coimbra, Portugal. They used a laser powered by the element holmium to dissolve the stones.

Although the patient had to use a catheter for two weeks, the doctors reported that procedure was a success. They said that the stones had yet to return. Still, they warned that the condition has “high rates of recurrence.”

The risks of a transgender penis

As part of an international campaign, which has seen Portugal become a world leader in transgender rights, activists have sought to downplay the complications from sex reassignment surgery, promoting it as a life-saving treatment.
MORE: Trans Teen Gets Court Order Against ‘Misgendering’ Dad: Words Are Violence
The procedure is anyway rare. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is estimated to be transgender. And small proportion of the population opts for surgery. Transgender men are particularly unlikely to go through phalloplasty.
However, research has found relatively high rates of complication. Phalloplasty for transgender men is especially challenging because the urethra must be lengthened substantially.
According to the Portuguese doctors, creating a penis from a “forearm free flap” results in complications in about 80 percent of cases. This is likely because of low blow supply and because the urethra becomes too wide or too narrow.
Cover image: Transgender YouTube star Ash Hardell speaking to fans in a video posted on Nov. 14, 2017. (Screen grab from YouTube)

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