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Health Highlights: May 16, 2016

Supreme Court Pushes Birth Control Fight Back to Lower Courts First U.S. Penis Transplant Patient Doing Well

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Supreme Court Pushes Birth Control Fight Back to Lower Courts

Lower courts should make another attempt to find a compromise in a birth control battle between faith-based groups and the Obama administration, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday.

The unsigned, unanimous opinion was issued by the justices over a White House arrangement to spare faith-based groups from having to pay for birth control for women covered under their health plans, the Associated Press reported.

"The court expresses no view on the merits of the cases," the justices wrote.

It's almost certain the issue will not return to the Supreme Court until after the 2016 presidential election, the AP reported.

Until the matter is resolved, the federal government can ensure that women covered by the faith-based groups' health plans have access to cost-free birth control, and the groups will not be fined for failure to comply with the requirement to cover birth control.


First U.S. Penis Transplant Patient Doing Well

The man who underwent the first penis transplant in the United States a week ago says he feels well and has not had much pain.

Thomas Manning, 64, underwent the 15-hour transplant surgery on May 8-9 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. His penis had been removed because of cancer. The new penis came from a deceased donor, The New York Times reported.

If all goes as planned, the bank courier from Halifax, Mass., should be able to urinate normally within a few weeks and regain sexual function in weeks or months, according to transplant team leader Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

"We're cautiously optimistic," Cetrulo said. "It's uncharted waters for us."

The transplant is experimental and part of a research program to improve treatment of combat veterans with severe pelvic injuries, as well as accident victims and cancer patients, The Times reported.

Manning said he wanted to speak publicly about his transplant to reduce the shame and stigma associated with genital cancers and injuries, and to show other men there is hope of regaining normal anatomy.

He did say he was not quite ready to take a close look at his transplant, The Times reported.

Another man whose penis was destroyed by burns in a car crash will receive a transplant as soon as a matching donor becomes available, Cetrulo said.

Penis transplants are also being planned by surgeons at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The Times reported.

Only two other penis transplants have been reported worldwide. There was a failed one in China in 2006 and a successful one in South Africa in 2014, and the recipient later fathered a child, the newspaper reported.

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