Sam Riley/Mass General Hospital via AP

Thomas Manning received the transplant after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of penile cancer

October 05, 2016 02:19 PM

Thomas Manning, a Massachusetts man who earlier this month received the first penis transplant in the U.S., said on Monday that he hopes to get his love life back on track as soon as possible.

“That’s the plan, but we’ll have to just wait and see,” the single 64-year-old bank courier tells PEOPLE. “I want to be like everybody else. I want to go back to work, have a relationship, and just lead a normal life.”

“I’m not sure how this is going to turn out, but the doctors are optimistic, and so am I. Things are coming along fine; we’re going forward, not backward,” Manning continued.

Manning, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of penile cancer, underwent a 15-hour transplant on May 8 and 9 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The penis came from the New England Organ Bank.

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Chief surgeon Dr. Curtis Cetrulo says the sexual function of Manning’s penis may be restored in as early as two months.

“It can take anywhere from a couple of months to longer, depending how fast his nerves grow. He’s on medication, which can actually help those nerves grow,” Cetrulo tells PEOPLE. “We’ve had good results with other transplants and returning nerves for sensory and motor function, but until we really have more information about nerves that govern the complex erogenous zones, it’s still really sort of unchartered waters at the moment.”

There are other patients being evaluated for a similar operation, the surgeon continued.

“We are cautiously waiting to see how this one goes,” says Cetrulo. “I am hopeful we can do more and, as we get more experience, we can offer it to Wounded Warriors and other victims of trauma or cancer.”

Cetrulo says that this procedure may be available to transgender people in the future.

“Right now, the scope of our experimental procedure is based on sort of replacement and trauma, but assuming that things work and are successful, with the information we learned from these procedures, it certainly wouldn t be ruled out,” Cetrulo says. “It s certainly out there in the conversation of surgeons who do this and centers that do this.”

Manning, who lives in Halifax, Massachusetts, said he hopes that by speaking out, he will help assuage the stigma associated with genital cancer, as well as help veterans who have sustained injuries that require a similar procedure.

“I’m very much behind the vets, and by doing this operation, it can save tens of thousands of veterans because if it s going to work with a 64-year-old male, it s going to work with a 20-year-old male,” Manning says.”When people see someone on the street whose leg is blown off, they don t think about the fact that the injury doesn t stop there. There s another visible injury in their pants.”

The first successful penis transplant was performed at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in December 2014. China also reported a similar transplant, that was unsuccessful, in 2006.

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