A 64-year-old man became the first in the US to receive a penis transplant in May, and Thomas Manning is now ready to talk about it. In a Q&A with Blair Miller for Boston Magazine, the "not shy" Manning talks about how his life first changed four years ago, when doctors examining him after he'd slipped on black ice discovered he had penile cancer and were forced to amputate his penis. He talks about how the ordeal was "a real kick in the chops" and the slew of physical complications afterward—he said at one point, one of his testicles "blew up to the size of a basketball." There were also the psychological hurdles: He had to sit down to urinate, and he "came to terms" with the fact he'd probably never have sex again. Yet despite his resignation, he didn't give up pushing for a transplant, taking care of his health so he could be a better candidate—and one day he got the call a donor had been found.
He discusses how he kept his surgery a secret from his family, his shocked reaction when he saw his new "black and blue" member after the procedure, and how so many people's minds immediately go to the "dirty" side of things when the subject is brought up. Still, he's not afraid to be candid about his experience, noting he "won't tolerate" any joking about the deceased donor and that doctors believe he'll soon be able to "do everything I’m supposed to do—go to the john, have a sex life, and regain full sensation." He adds, "In my eyes, if I have to live without one of those things, then I learn to live without." The sensitive subject of masturbation and sex does come up, to which Manning replies: "I'll tell you up front, I'm not even going to attempt to do that until March, maybe longer." (Manning's full Q&A on being in this "very exclusive club" here.)