Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Chinese rebuild sex organs with muscle grafts
Reconstructive surgery is a painstaking process
Chinese doctors are claiming a breakthrough in prosthetic surgery after successfully rebuilding male sex organs using muscle from elsewhere in their bodies.
The two patients involved have gone on to marry and father children, and the doctors claim even the newly linked nerves are working well enough for the new organ to respond to sexual thoughts and desires.
One of the men, a worker from eastern Shandong province, had his penis removed because of a malignant tumour.
The other, a Pakistani citizen, lost his in a work accident.
But a spokesman for the Shanghai No.9 People's Hospital, where the painstaking operations took place, said they had proved a complete success.
A normal sex life
He said: "Since we successfully rebuilt prosthetic penises, both patients have got married, enjoyed a normal sex life, and had children.
"We use skin and muscles from the patient's forearms, thighs and stomach to rebuild the penis."
He said that the dimensions of the new organ were an improvement on its predecessor.
And he added: "It can also repair all sense in nerve endings related to the patient's sexual feeling, thus giving him a complete recovery."
Mr Roger Green, Honorary Secretary of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, said that if the technique managed to restore full function with a single operation, it would be an advance.
He said: "The difficulty is in creating an erection. What is often used is a balloon which can be inflated by the patient. Essentially it's hydraulics."
Re-linking nerves is challenge
He said that rejoining nerves so that a patient could respond physically to feelings of sexual desire was another challenge.
"But it's a very rare condition, thankfully, so there is no one centre in this country which specialises in the procedure.
"But I have known patients father children following such operations."
Plastic surgeons and urologists in this country have been known to use a section of flesh from the forearm, which can be manipulated to form the correct shape, and provide the necessary watertight tubes within to carry urine and semen.