-FOUNDATION OF THE FIRST CENTRE FOR TRANSGENDER SURGERY AND GENITAL ORGANS TRANSPLANTATION IN EUROPE
The first European Centre of Transgender Surgery and Genital Organs Transplantation is now a reality, resulting from the partnership between the Andrology Institute Athens and the Athens Medical Centre. This Centre is the first to combine these two techniques.
As it was stated in a press conference that took place when the centre was announced, it is staffed with a large team of Greek and foreign specialised scientists and pledges to provide comprehensive care, in modern and truly model facilities, to people who live in the “twilight zone” and have non-existent or ambiguous genitalia as a result of congenital conditions, accidents and gender identity disorders.
According to the available data, there are currently 10,000 – 20,000 people in Europe who wish to proceed with a gender realignment surgery or genital organ transplantation. Nevertheless, very few will actually dare to go through with such process due to the associated taboos and social stigma, as well as due to the aversion felt by many people towards transgender people.
“At the moment there are several “Transgender Surgery Centres” in operation (in London, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Athens). However, the new development in transgender surgery comes with transplantation which shall provide recipients with an almost completely natural and normal sex life, compared to results yield by transgender surgery techniques that are based on the formation of a pseudo-penis or pseudo-vagina”, said Dr. Konstantinos Konstantinidis, president of the Andrology Institute, Surgeon Urologist & Andrologist – Chief and Manager of the Centre for Transgender Surgery and Genital Organs Transplantation and Director of the Sexual Health Clinic at Athens Medical Centre.
29 year-old Camille Franciosi from France is the first candidate patient for penis transplantation in Europe.
“I cannot enjoy a normal sex life, I have attempted suicide more than once, I cannot be with a partner… At school, I was having problems as my classmates would tell me that I am not a man because I had no penis. This is something you cannot share with anyone; so I was always keeping these problems to myself.
I spoke with Mr. Konstantinidis and Mr. Kojovic and we made a website (http://arepahs.eu/), where people with similar issues may come in contact with each other and find the information they want. For 25 whole years we were looking to find a credible centre to help us. I visited several doctors all around Europe, but no one was willing to take such risk. Mr. Konstantinidis, Mr. Merwe and Mr. Kojovic were the only ones who decided to help me. Even when I meet a girl, I feel I am not whole. The issues of the mind are often more overwhelming than the issues of the body” says 29 year-old Camille.
The Centre for Transgender Surgery and Genital Organs Transplantation, the first of its kind in Europe, if not in the world, comprises two new innovative and unique departments:
* The Department for Genital Organs Transplantation, managed by Dr. Andre Van Der Merwe, Professor of Urology and Director of the Urology Department at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, the first in the world to conduct a successful penis transplant.
* The Transgender Surgery Department, managed by Dr. Vladimir Kojovic, Associate Professor of Urology at the University of Belgrade, where the largest number of transgender surgical procedures in the world is conducted.
This new Centre shall address the needs of men who have had their penis amputated due to accidents or medical reasons (penile cancer), transgender persons (who wish to change from women to men), persons suffering from serious cases of epispadias (a condition resulting in very small penises).
The Centre shall operate within the Athens Medical Centre, in cooperation with Andrology International, which has locations in London, Vienna, Rome, Athens, Dubai, Belgrade and Johannesburg.
“Transgender surgery is a precursor to transplantation, since it offers an almost ideal solution to men who have lost their genitalia as well as persons who seek to achieve a male phenotype in harmony with the ability to conduct complete sexual relations” stated Dr. Konstantinidis.
Dr. Andre Van Der Merwe explained that genitalia play a very important role in how a person self-identifies and any anomaly or malformation in genitalia often leads to depression. “Patients who lost genitalia in trauma or war are at a suicide risk due to depression. This depression could be reversed by a penis transplantation and this effect on the mood is permanent as is evident 20 months post transplantation where the patient is now self-declared “happy” and has intercourse as frequent as he wish .”
The first recipient of a penis transplant is now a father and has a normal sex life. Now there has also been a second transplantation in the United States.
Transgender surgery is in essence a surgery to reassign a gender, stressed Dr. Vladimir Kojovic in his speech.
“World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) adopted Standards of Care (SOC) for all persons with gender identity disorder. Transition process should be performed according to these well-defined Standards of Care. This process includes psychiatric evaluation and surveillance, hormonal and surgical therapy.”
In transgender surgery, which is a simpler procedure, the goal of the Centre for Transgender Surgery and Genital Organs Transplantation is to become a Reference Centre for Europe but also the world.
Georgios Kreatsas, Professor of Gynaecology at the University of Athens, referred to the restoration of the reproductive system for girls who are born without a uterus and without a vagina or with obstruction between uterus and vagina.
“These conditions include imperforate hymen, vaginal or uterine aplasia as well as cases of girls who have been born with chromosome abnormalities, meaning that they are biologically boys but their outer external organs are those of a girl or vice versa. This condition is called pseudo-hermaphroditism. Until now, in Greece and abroad, we have operated upon 254 girls with vaginal aplasia, using our own technique which is internationally known under our name: Creatsas Vaginoplasty.»
Athens Medical Group is one of the largest healthcare groups in Southeast Europe and, in partnership with Andrology International, one of the largest andrology centres in Europe, the Group has launched the first specialised surgery provider in Greece with global appeal.
“Faithful to our ongoing commitment to always be one step ahead, we, at the Athens Medical Group, fight against the current economic crisis through investments, new job positions and the inauguration of new medical departments. Our strategy is to invest on medical innovation an, in this framework, we are very happy since the first Centre for Transgender Surgery and Genital Organs Transplantation in Europe is able to offer integrated and unique health services, in cooperation with a leading physician, Mr. Konstantinidis” said Manolis Markopoulos, Chief Financial Officer of Athens Medical Group and General Manager of Athens Medical Centre.