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.
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.”