News you may have missed...
Italy doctor seeks world's first penis transplant
By Philip Pullella
ROME, Nov 3 (Reuters) - A leading Italian plastic surgeon
who has asked health officials for permission to carry out the
world's first penis transplant said on Tuesday that he already
had three patients ready to undergo the operation.
"This is not like the Bobbit case, where his penis was
re-implanted," Professor Nicolo Scuderi said referring to the
famous case of John Wayne Bobbit, whose penis was re-attached in
1993 after his wife had cut it off.
"This would be the first time a penis is transplanted from
one body to another, whether it be from a living body or a
corpse," he told Reuters in an interview in his office at Rome's
Umberto I hospital, Italy's largest.
"Technically this would not be a very complicated
operation...a transplant is easier than re-attachment," he said.
But Scuderi said it was not clear if a person who received a
transplanted penis would be able to have an erection.
Scuderi made headlines on Tuesday when a Rome newspaper
first reported his recent request to the health ministry.
He said he was spurred to make the request after French
doctors performed their own surgical first when they
transplanted an arm and a hand to an amputee.
Three people have told Scuderi they would be willing to
undergo the operation.
Two are women who have received legal permission to undergo
sex change operations and would receive transplanted penises.
He said the third is a man who had had his penis amputated
in a sex change operation to become a woman but has since
"realised it was a mistake" and wants to return to being a man,
Scuderi's surgical team already carries out penis
reconstruction surgery for sex change operations and amputee
cases, including those where penises have to be cut off because
of cancer. This is usually done by using forearm muscles.
"We are ready. We are just waiting for the OK," he said.
The penis transplant operations could take place by twinning
sex-change patients. A man who wanted to become a woman could
donate his penis to a woman who wanted to become a man.
He said penises could also be donated by clinically dead
patients on life-support equipment, which is a main source of
other transplant organs such as hearts, lungs and livers.
"We can restore vascularity, we can restore sensitivity to
the organ but we don't know how much sensitivity and function
will be regained," he said.
Scuderi said whether a patient who received a transplanted
organ could have an erection was still an unanswered question.
"This is a main concern, a main question and maybe the
answer will only be possible after the surgery," he said, adding
that there could be large variations in the results.
Scuderi acknowledged that ethical questions would have to be
addressed, particularly if the risks involved, including
immunological ones, could be justififed since the penis was not
a vital organ.
"Plastic surgery always favours innovation and breaking new
frontiers. I don't think that I am the only one that wants to do
this type of surgery, I just want to be sure that this type of
surgery will benefit the patient," he said.
"I don't want only to be the first one. The important thing
is to see if the (health ministry) ethical committee will allow
this operation. I asked for the ministry's consent because I
want to be sure that it is the best thing to do," he said.
Scuderi said that at least at the beginning he would turn
down any eventual requests from men who wanted to receive a
transplanted organ larger than their natural one.
"For the moment the answer is 'no' because the surgery is
very complicated and very risky surgery. It's not an aesthetic
procedure," he said.
And in related news...
Chinese doctors craft new penis for child
BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Chinese doctors have crafted a new
penis for a boy who lost his natural one in a scuffle with a
temperamental donkey, state media said on Wednesday.
Army surgeons in China's capital made the new organ for
six-year-old Jiang Rongming out of his own skin and abdominal
tissue, Xinhua news agency said.
Jiang said he was "quite happy" with the doctors' handiwork,
adding he was now able to urinate normally for the first time
since the accident earlier this year, Xinhua said.
Jiang's penis was bitten off while he was petting a donkey
outside his home in northeastern Jilin province.
News of Jiang's plight caught the attention of a
Beijing-based doctor, Ma Fushun, who brought the boy to People's
Liberation Army Hospital Number 262 for examination.
"By the time the boy arrived in Beijing, the bitten part had
festered, his scrotum was swollen and his kidneys and urethra
were hurting," Xinhua said.
Doctors declared the operation a success after two weeks of
observation, and said they were confident Jiang would regain full
use of the organ.
"If he has another restoration operation when he is 18 or
sometime before he marries, his sexual functions will be normal,"
The military hospital waived fees for the operation, which
cost more than 10,000 yuan ($1,205), Xinhua added.
Let's just read that again:
"Jiang's penis was bitten off while he was petting a donkey."
Hmmm. No, perhaps best not to dwell on that one. Let's move on
instead to someone else whose actions require explanation.
Kenyan farmer injured trying to milk elephant
NAIROBI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - A young farmer was badly injured
by an irate elephant after he tried to milk her while she was
grazing with her calf, a Kenyan newspaper reported on Friday.
The Daily Nation said Peter Baraza, 21, crept up on the wild
elephant near Lake Nakuru in Kenya's Rift Valley and managed to
pull nearly a pint of milk before the cow realised it was not
her calf that was suckling.
The elephant tossed Baraza and his half-filled can in the
air and pursued him as he scrambled, badly winded, up a nearby
It then uprooted the tree with its trunk and waved it in the
air with Baraza still clinging to the branches.
The Daily Nation said the cow was finally distracted by a
group of screaming women and Baraza was rescued and taken to
The newspaper did not say why Baraza -- who suffered broken
ribs and a dislocated shoulder -- tried to milk the elephant.
Lightning kills entire football team
KINSHASA, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Lightning killed all 11
members of a football team during a match in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo while leaving the opposing team untouched,
a Kinshasa newspaper said on Wednesday.
"Lightning killed at a stroke 11 young people aged between
20 and 35 years during a football match," said a report in the
Thirty other people had received burns at the weekend match,
said the report which was sourced to the Congo Press Agency. It
said: "The athletes from (the home team) Basanga curiously came
out of this catastrophe unscathed."
The two teams in the match, in eastern Kasai province, were
drawing 1-1 when the lightning struck, the paper said. "The
exact nature of the lightning has divided the population in this
region known for its use of fetishes in football," it added.
There was no official confirmation of the report as a rebel
war affects much of the east of the country.
Heavy storms since the weekend were reported to have washed
away shanty homes in parts of the capital Kinshasa, killing a
boy in one district.
S.African police probe woman's headless foetus
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) - South African police are
investigating a case of culpable homicide after a headless
foetus was removed from a pregnant woman on Tuesday, police
"It is suspected at this stage that the head was either
pulled off or cut off during an attempted abortion," said a
daily police crime statement.
The unidentified 37-year-old woman, who was about six months
pregnant, was in a serious but stable condition in Johannesburg
Growing old disgracefully...
SANTA CLARA, California - There were three elderly ladies --
but only one handicapped parking space.
When the fracas was over, 88-year-old Edna Gilliam was in
the hospital with a broken hip. Gloria Owens, 67, was awaiting
news of possible criminal charges. And Owens' 98-year-old mother
was a potential witness in the bizarre battle over parking at
the California hospital.
"It is somewhat bizarre for ladies at this age to be
involved in physical confrontation," Sgt. Anton Morec of the
Santa Clara police department said on Tuesday. "Obviously there
were some emotional hot buttons pushed."
Police said the dispute erupted on Monday after Gilliam
pulled into a parking space for the handicapped at the Kaiser
Hospital that Owens, who was bringing her mother for a medical
appointment, had been waiting for. When Owens went to Gilliam's
car and knocked on the window, she was ignored -- because
Gilliam is hard of hearing.
As Gilliam left her car and began walking to the hospital,
Owens approached from behind, tugged at her purse, grabbed her
sweater and eventually spun her around. In the altercation that
ensued, Gilliam was knocked to the pavement, fracturing her
Morec said the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office
was reviewing the case for possible criminal charges, while
Gilliam remained under observation after undergoing surgery on
"You will see incidences of road rage on the news, but
rarely does it involve women, and particularly women at this
age," Morec said. "But we've all experienced waiting for a
parking space and have somebody else slip in. Obviously there
was some passion and emotion in this particular case."
Leopard watches TV then dozes off
NEW DELHI, Oct 29 (Reuters) - A leopard sneaked into a house
in northern India, climbed on to a bed and watched television
before dozing off, the Asian Age daily reported on Thursday.
The owner of the house, in a suburb of Chandigarh, thought
that her four-year-old son was referring to a TV wildlife
documentary when he came into the kitchen and said there was a
"tiger" in the room.
But her amusement turned to horror when she peeked into the
bedroom and saw the big cat sprawled out on her bed. She grabbed
her son and fled.
"The leopard, after watching TV for over an hour, apparently
got bored so he rolled over and went off to sleep on the bed,"
Asian Age said.
Forest department officials tranquillised the leopard a few
hours later with a dart pistol and carried it to a zoo.
Colombian cleric sees too much flesh in church
BOGOTA, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A Roman Catholic priest said
Tuesday that worshippers in Colombia's steamy Caribbean port of
Barranquilla were showing up for church in scanty outfits that
revealed too much.
Glotario Emer was quoted on local radio as saying he had
recently told parishioners at the San Luis Beltran Church that
communion would be denied to anyone who failed to wear "decent
"I'm not demanding that they dress in luxury, just
decently," Emer said, adding that there were theological
reasons to demand certain minimum standards of dress.
"A low cut blouse is one thing. But if it's a cut where you
can see the breasts, and where the belly is shown, I think it's
inconsiderate for people to dress like that," he said.
In one recent case, he said a man waiting to receive
communion changed his mind because of the temptation he
suffered while standing in line with a girl who was practically
"I could see everything," he quoted the man as saying.
In other cases, he said people had arrived in church "in
slippers, gym shorts, undershirts and sometimes almost in their
Emer said a degree of solemnity had to be observed in
church despite Barranquilla's oppressive tropical heat. "We
have to educate people," he said.
China university exorcises Halloween spirits
BEIJING, Oct 31 (Reuters) - When the grim reaper paid a
Halloween visit to one of China's most prestigious universities
this week, he found himself no match for Chinese police.
Students at the Beijing Foreign Language University were
puzzled at the sight of two black-robed figures with green
skeleton masks handing out flyers for a local bar's Halloween
"We thought maybe they were terrorists from Cuba," said Wang
Jun, a 21-year-old English major. "They looked like devils."
The silent, hooded spectres drew a crowd, and also attracted
security police who promptly hustled them away to the campus
"You can't practise your religion here," a senior
plainclothes officer scolded them, angrily shaking the flyers.
Forty-five minutes later, two shaken Bulgarian students,
Georgy Georgiev and Dossety Cvetovov, emerged and told Reuters it
had taken 15 minutes to convince the police they were not passing
out religious material.
"We wrote 'All Saint's Eve', in Chinese as the translation
for Halloween, so I guess that's why he thought it was
religious," said Georgiev.
"That was the first time we've done this, and I guess it will
be our last," he added.
Finnish priest rebuked for trying to wake the dead
HELSINKI, Nov 6 (Reuters) - A Finnish Lutheran vicar has
been reprimanded by his bishop for trying to wake a
four-year-old boy from the dead, the tabloid Iltalehti reported
The newspaper said vicar Markku Koivisto, from a small town
150 km (90 miles) north of Helsinki, prayed over the body of the
drowned child and led parishioners in an all-night vigil aimed
at resurrecting him.
The boy drowned in a lake as an ambulance called to his aid
drove into a ditch and a medical helicopter sent to the scene
flew to the wrong place, the newspaper said. No officials were
immediately available to confirm the report.
Last week's edition
Back to the TC home page