Miami doctors to attempt complex penile reconstruction on injured 16-year-old
Luis Canelos was 9 years old when a shotgun accidentally discharged and destroyed his penis and most of his testicles, according to a press release. Only part of his right testicle remains. The 16-year-old has had to urinate through a perineal urethra since the accident.
Two medical teams at the South Florida hospital plan to replace his penis with skin from his forearm and bone from a cadaver. The first surgery is scheduled for next month and is expected to take 24 hours, the Miami Herald reported.
"I cannot overemphasize how complex the operation is," Dr. Rafael Gosalbez, a pediatric urologist at Miami Children's Hospital, said to the Miami Herald. He and two other doctors will be leading the pro-bono procedure.
Dr. Christopher J. Salgado, associate professor of surgery and section chief of plastic surgery at the University of Miami, said doctors will remove skin from Canelos' left forearm and will transfer nerves to ensure he will feel sensation in the new organ, the Miami Herald wrote. Then, skin will be transferred from his thigh to replace the lost skin on his arm. Another surgery will implant a cadaver's fibula bone to give the organ more structure. Salgado said that the procedure is "not very common and there are not a lot of institutions that do this." He performs about six penile reconstruction surgeries a year.
Not only do doctors anticipate Canelos be able to urinate normally following the procedure, but because one of his testicles is still functioning, they expect that he will be able to have children in the future, according to the Miami Herald. Another option that was looked at instead of transplanting a cadaver bone was to install an artificial pump, but that procedure's propensity to infection made doctors chose the other option.
The expensive procedure will cost $50,000. A non-profit group called International Kids Fund's (IKF) Wonderfund brought Canelos and his father to the U.S. for the surgery and are raising money for the costs. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, public funds cannot be used for the procedure.
"It's obvious that Luis is very, very shy," Mar?a Luisa Chea, International Kids Fund executive director, said at a hospital press conference according to WSVN. "He has told us that he was never expecting to be able to have this surgery and that he found out through Dr. John McCarthy [his local doctor] who came and talked with Dr. Salgado and that's when he first had hope. He does not really remember the actual accident and he's very very shy."
The boy and his family are grateful for his chance to have a normal life. The family, which consists of seven other siblings and a mother and father, lives in a small town in northern Peru where shotguns are necessary for subsistence hunting.
"This tragedy has changed my son and our family's life forever," Luis's father, Roger Canelos, said in the press release. "Now he has the opportunity to be whole again and I ask everyone who hears about my son's story to help transform his future."
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