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Volume 12, Issue 6 (November 2010) 12, 795–800; 10.1038/aja.2010.88

Ethical issues in penile transplantation

Li-Chao Zhang1, Yong-Bing Zhao1 and Wei-Lie Hu1

Department of Urology, Guangzhou General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command, Guangzhou 510010, China

Correspondence: Dr Wei-Lie Hu, gz_urology@yahoo.cn

Received 28 April 2010; Revised 17 June 2010; Accepted 2 July 2010; Published online 13 September 2010.


This article provides an overview of the ethical issues associated with penile transplantation, a form of composite tissue allografting. There is only one reported case of human penile transplantation, and, as such, this technique is considered to be experimental. The ethical issues at stake involve both the graft donor and the graft recipient. With regard to the recipient, there are significant concerns relating to surgical risks and benefits, informed consent, body image (including surgical expectations and outcomes) and compliance. Donor issues may include family consent and privacy, as well as graft harvesting (leaving the donor cadaver without a penis). Many of these ethical issues can be explored during the recipient's assessment and consent process. Because no medium-term or long-term outcome data for this procedure exist—only one such operation has ever been performed—the burdens and ethical issues concerning penile transplantation remain unknown.


ethics; penis; transplantation

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