Monkey Gland Transplants

I am not sure if this is the really the same thing as paperbackwriter was answering, but I do recall in school while being forced to attempt to comprehend the poetry of W. B. Yeats, it was mentioned that he had monkey testicles grafted onto his own ‘boys’ later in life. A swift check on that well known all-encompassing source, wikipedia, shows that the practice was fairly widespread in the 1920’s and 1930’s by one particular doctor, and involved transplanting a small sliver of monkey testicle into the scrotum of the patient, most of whom apparently reported ‘much benefit’ from the operation. All I can say was it made me a little more interested in his work, but I never did find any eveidence of a dividing line in his work of ‘before’ and ‘after’.


Link to staff Report: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2867/can-testicles-be-transplanted – CKDH

It wasn’t monkey testicles that Yeats would have had transplanted but goat ones. Although your recollection of the donor species was incorrect, it was fairly common to have testicular xenotransplants in the 20’s.

I am speaking of one “Doctor” John R. Brinkley, a/k/a “the goat gland doctor”. Brinkley was a quack, through and through, but a horrifyingly successful one. He performed over 16,000 xenotransplants of goat testicles or testicular tissue into men. Supposedly, the goat testicles would “reinvigorate” older men, prevent or treat a whole host of ailments, and restore libidos.

These “treatments” weren’t cheap, either: $750 during the 1920’s, or over $9,000 in today’s dollars. For $5,000 (equivalent to almost $61,000), he would implant human testicles obtained from death-row inmates.

When I say “transplant”, you shouldn’t think of the type of careful, meticulous, difficult microsurgery that I was discussing in the Staff Report. Brinkley apparently just kind of tossed the new ones in and crudely sutured them to the existing equipment.

I didn’t find out about Brinkley until after I had written the Report, first hearing about his antics from bibliophage.

Yeats was not one of Brinkely’s patients, but he was a bit obsessed with “stimulating his muse” (as it were) in later life. According to Brenda Maddox in Yeats’s Ghosts, Yeats did have an operation for “rejuvenation by experimental revitalization of the aging puberty gland.” Today, we call this procedure a vasectomy. The production and role of testosterone was not known at this time, so a vasectomy was thought to boost sex drive by retaining sperm in the testicles.

Yeats became associated with Brinkley through jokes, mainly. Although Yeats had his operation in 1934 after Brinkley was out of business, the goat gland doctor was so famous that any operation to boost libido was bound to be linked to him. Brinkley had not only a major and internationally-known practice, but also a nationwide radio call-in show, owned multiple radio stations, and almost became governor of Kansas in a write-in campaign! As soon as Yeats disclosed to his friends that he had his operation, jokes about goat glands were circulated. They still are in some places.

Moderator note: I’ve added a link to paperback writer’s brilliant Staff Report at the bottom of the OP. Having a link in the first post to the Column or Staff Report helps keep us all on the same pages, avoids redundancy, and saves search time. No biggie, Haughey6, you’ll know for next time.

A possible reason for allogenic testicular transplantation is cosmetic.
A man who lost testes, to trauma or surgery, may wish to restore his manly appearance. In this case, prosthetic testes are used. Prosthestic testes look and feel like living tissue but are fabricated and nonfunctional.

I merged the previous post into this thread because it’s about the same staff report.
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Gfactor**
Moderator

Procudures like this aren’t “allogenic transplants” though. As you say, they’re non-living tissue and are proplerly called implants (just like silicone breast implants). “Allogenic” means “same kind,” so in the context of transplants it always refers to tissue from the same species.

Furthermore, implants are non-functional, so they still wouldn’t address the question posed.

Given the sticky that the Staff Reports are prepared in advance, I don’t know if this is relevant, but I find it interesting in light of paperbackwriter’s statement that multiple similar letters were received that a plot point of last week’s My Name is Earl episode (5/14/09) involved testicle transplantation (a human receiving transplanted bull testicles). Interesting timing.

FTR, the three emails in question were sent to Cecil on 6/28/2004, 7/25/2007, and 11/9/2008. I picked it out of the slush pile this March, probably about the time that the My Name Is Earl writers were talking out their plot.