A South African university says it has performed a successful penis transplant.

The University of Stellenbosch said specialists from its medical faculty performed the nine-hour operation in December on a man who had his penis amputated three years ago.

It said the 21-year-old man "has made a full recovery and has regained all function in the newly transplanted organ".

The university said it was only the second time the procedure had been carried out. A man in China received a transplant in 2005 but asked surgeons to remove the new organ two weeks later.

The patient had his penis amputated after complications from a circumcision performed in his late teens, the university said.

The university did not give any details of the organ donor, but said "finding a donor was one of the major challenges".

Professor Andre van der Merwe, head of Stellenbosch University's urology department and leader of the South African surgical team, said they had predicted the patient would have full use of his transplanted organ in about two years.

"We are very surprised by his rapid recovery," Prof van der Merwe said.

Circumcisions are performed on boys and young men as a rite of passage to adulthood in some rural parts of South Africa. Stellenbosch University said experts had estimated that there could be as many as 250 penis amputations a year in the country because of botched circumcisions.

The university said it was planning for nine more patients to receive penis transplants.

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