Aside from defeating apartheid, South Africans can also claim the honor of being the first country to complete a successful penis transplant.
On Dec. 11, 2014, doctors from Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital completed the nine-hour procedure.
Far from a cosmetic choice, the surgery was a solution to the patient’s botched circumcision, performed as part of a traditional African coming-of-age ceremony. The surgical techniques used were similar to those involved in facial transplants. “We used the same type of microscopic surgery to connect small blood vessels and nerves, and the psychological evaluation of patients was also similar,” said Dr. André van der Merwe, the head of the team of doctors.
This procedure was successful, while a similar attempt failed in China in 2006.
In the United States, circumcisions performed by licensed doctors sometimes involve minor complications, like bleeding and infection, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the extra-medical circumcisions prevalent in African tribal traditions have come under rising criticism as dangerous.