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It’s a story bound to induce some giggles, but it’s a serious subject. America now has its first successful penis transplant. While there are plenty of jokes to be made here there is a real tearjerker of a story at the heart of this one. The New York Times reported this morning that the man named Thomas Manning is getting a new penis. Manning is a cancer survivor who no longer wants to live in the shadows.

A man whose penis was removed because of cancer has received the first penis transplant in the United States, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Thomas Manning, 64, a bank courier from Halifax, Mass., underwent the 15-hour transplant operation on May 8 and 9. The organ came from a deceased donor.

“I want to go back to being who I was,” Mr. Manning said on Friday in an interview in his hospital room.

While the sigma over reparative or preventive cosmetic surgery in females has be normalized in many high profile cases like Angelina Jolie, many men live in shame. While it might seem strange to call these men brave it’s important to remember many potential case will be veterans.

Veterans are a major focus of transplant programs in the United States because suicide rates are exceptionally high in soldiers with severe damage to the genitals and urinary tract, Dr. Cetrulo said. “They’re 18- to 20-year-old guys, and they feel they have no hope of intimacy or a sexual life,” he said. “They can’t even go to the bathroom standing up.”

Given the psychological toll, he said, a penis transplant can be lifesaving.

Dr. Cetrulo said the team would most likely perfect its techniques on civilian patients and then move on to injured veterans. It will also train military surgeons to perform the transplants. The Department of Defense, he said in an email, “does not like to have wounded warriors undergo unproven techniques — i.e., they do not want them to be ‘guinea pigs,’ as they have already sacrificed so much.”

The sigma for some can have lasting psychological effects. The truth is men, rightly or wrongly, gain their self-worth from their bodies.

Some people close to him urged him to keep the operation a secret, but he refused, saying that was like lying, and he had nothing to be ashamed of.

“I didn’t advertise, but if people asked, I told them the truth,” he said, adding that a few male friends made “guy talk” jokes at his expense, but that it toughened him up.

“Men judge their masculinity with their bodies,” he said.

While the procedure is still in its infancy, things are hopeful that men could lead normal lives again, even fathering children.

Dr. Cetrulo estimated the cost at $50,000 to $75,000. Both hospitals are paying for the procedures, and the doctors are donating their time.

Worldwide, only two other penis transplants have been reported: a failed one in China in 2006 and a successful one in South Africa in 2014, in which the recipient later fathered a child.

We salute you, Thomas Manning, America’s first penis transplantee.

 h/t New York Times