Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Friday, March 25, 2005

Size doesn't matter-- quantity matters

When my (now ex-) husband was in his residency, he moonlighted as an emergency room physician. I learned much about the way the medical world sees the rest of us by listening to medical jargon, some of which crystallizes clearly the medical experience. For example, what I had always called a "motorcycle" is often called a "donorcycle" by hospital and rehabilitation personnel. The term speaks volumes.

In the Ananova story below, though, the motorcyclist became an organ donor/farm/recipient:

Man with two penises loses wife

A German who persuaded doctors to give him a second penis has lost his wife after he showed her the result.

Biker Michael Gruber, 40, lost his original penis in a motorbike accident and doctors built him a second one using a mixture of skin, bone and other tissues from his own body.

The penis worked so well that he was even able to father a child with his wife bianca, 25, and their son Etienne was born last year.

But Gruber was still not happy and asked doctors to repeat the operation and build him a better organ, to which they agreed.

However, before removing the first penis doctors said they needed to make sure the new tissue transplant was a success, and had to leave the first penis in place.

Dr Markus Kuentscher, a plastic surgeon at Berlin's Accident Hospital, said: "We left the old one attached until the new one is properly supplied with blood."

But when Gruber showed his wife his double penis, she went home, packed her bags and left.

From his hospital bed he said: "I've got two penises but no wife, but I am hoping when I get rid of one of the penises I will get her back."

His testicles are intact and will be connected to what is actually his third penis when doctors are happy the operation was a success.

His story was this week featured on a German TV documentary called The Last Penis Operation.

This story was carried in a number of papers,but there's something urban legendish about the whole thing. Maybe it's the "mixture of skin, bone and other tissues" line that sounds counter-anatomical. The male human does not have a penis bone, or baculum. [other animals have different penises-- or not-- which evolved to meet specific uses and functions, as PZ Myers neatly explained over at Pharyngula.]

I don't think that we will be seeing "The Last Penis Operation" on network television in the United States anytime soon.