Doctors in South Africa performed the first successful penis transplant in the world on a man who had his penis amputated following a botched circumcision ritual, said a hospital on Friday.

The transplant operation took 9 hours to complete and was completed in December of last year. It was part of a pilot study in Cape Town at the Tygerber Hospital in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch. This study is to help a number of young males who lose their penises each year through botched circumcisions.

The head of the urology unit at the hospital said the situation was quite serious since it can be a deeply traumatic event for an 18 or 19 year old to lose his penis.

The young patient has now recovered and has full use of his penis. Doctors said that the procedure might eventually be extended to men who lost their penis to cancer or to those who suffer from severe cases of erectile dysfunction.

One of the doctors said in South Africa there was a greater need for this procedure than in other places, as many of the young men in the country lose their penis each year because of complications from circumcision.

The patient, who for ethical reason was not named, was 21 when he had his penis amputated after developing severe complications from a circumcision.

One major challenge was finding a donor organ for the young man. The donor was a male who had died and donated all of his organs for transplant.

The Xhosa tribe is where many of these men are from who have their foreskins removed as a rite of passage into manhood at age 18. It is estimated that as many as 250 men lose their penises annually because of this ritual.

The initiates must live in a special hut away from the rest of the community for a number of weeks, shave their heads and smear whitish clay over their entire body to move into adulthood.

Nine more patients will be give penile transplants in the ongoing study, said doctors, However, when the surgery will be performed is unknown as donors are not plentiful.