Last updated: May 16, 2016

A man who had his penis removed due to cancer is the recipient of the first penis transplant in the United States.

Thomas Manning, 64, underwent the 15-hour procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital last week and is recovering well with blood flow occurring to the transplanted organ and no signs of bleeding, rejection, or infection, according to the hospital's news release. The organ came from a deceased donor. 

A penile cancer diagnosis in 2012 led to the partial penectomy, or partial amputation of Manning's penis. With the transplant, he should be able to have normal urination within weeks and may regain his sexual function in months—if all continues to go well. "I want to go back to who I was," he said in an interview with The New York Times.

This is an experimental surgery, which is intended to help combat veterans who have suffered severe pelvic injuries, as well as accident victims and cancer patients like Manning. Two other penis transplants have been reported, according to the Times, one in China in 2006, which was unsuccessful, and one in South Africa in 2014, which was a success (and the man went on to father a child.)

Severe pelvic injuries can be particularly damaging psychologically for men. “We are hopeful that these reconstructive techniques will allow us to alleviate the suffering and despair of those who have experienced devastating genitourinary injuries and are often so despondent they consider taking their own lives,” said Curtis L. Cetrulo, Jr., MD, of the MGH Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Transplant Center, and who led the surgical team.

Manning himself talked about how he avoided intimacy because of the amputation. "I couldn't have a relationship with anybody," he said in the Times interview. "You can't tell a woman, 'I had a penis transplant.'" 

In a written statement, Manning expressed his optimism for the procedure. "Today I begin a new chapter filled with personal hope and hope for others who have suffered genital injuries, particularly for our service members who put their lives on the line and suffer serious damage as a result," he wrote.