Being a soldier sounds hard enough even without thinking about the possibility of having your genitals damaged by a landmine, but it’s something they have to consider and, unfortunately, it sometimes happens. Dr. Anthony Atala and his team at Wake Forest University in North Carolina have been helping grow new ears for soldiers who lost theirs in explosions. But as if that wasn’t difficult enough, the team is now starting to grow new penises for soldiers that have lost those too.
The pelvic area is a difficult place to properly armour, especially to prevent explosions from landmines, which are so close to it, from damaging anything underneath. Soldier’s kidneys, bladders, intestines and genitalia can be irreversibly damaged by a blast. Have you ever been kicked between the legs? Now imagine that, but the kicker has a grenade stuck to their foot. No matter how much protection you have, it’s going to leave a mark.
Using some of the patient’s own cells, Dr. Atala’s team can grow many different parts of the body that could need replacing. They were the first lab to fully grow and implant an organ in to a human in 2006 using this technique. They are also working on making kidneys, muscle implants and regenerative fingers, but growing replacement penises for soldiers sounds like the most noble task a doctor could undertake.
While the project is still in the developmental stage, they are having some successes with their testing. They have grown and grafted replacement penises on to rabbits, whom were then able to use them to their full extent, if you catch my drift. If you don’t catch my drift, here’s the explanation. The rabbits were able to have sex with their new penises and father litters of baby rabbits.
The project will help soldiers regain parts of their bodies that mean a lot to them. The research will also benefit people who could suffer from problems not just with their penises, but with other organs too. It could be the start of people growing their own organs if theirs are damaged or they want a spare, just in case. Having one in the cupboard would certainly bring peace of mind, and give a completely new meaning to the song ‘Dick in a Box’.