They’re the kind of wounds that people can’t see, and never get talked about — and yet injuries to the groin are sadly all too common among service members. One soldier had given up on the chance of having children with his wife, until he underwent a radical treatment that gave him the chance to be a father.
Sgt Thai Lee was serving as an Army medic in Afghanistan in 2014 when the unthinkable happened.
After breakfast at his base, he heard explosions and ran to the scene of the attack.
But soon, he felt an excruciating heat between his legs, collapsed and passed out.
After he regained consciousness, he had a friend hovering over him.
With pain emanating from his groin and stomach, he asked his friend how his ‘boys’ were doing.
His friend responded by telling him that he would not be able to have kids.
It was three days later at Walter Reed National Military Center in Maryland that Sgt Lee learned just what had happened, according to NBC News.
He had a stroke and neck wound that partially paralyzed the left side of his body, and he was hit in the stomach and lost part of his intestines.
Furthermore, Sgt Lee’s penis had been severely cut – with one testicle ‘blown off’ and the other crushed.
Sgt Lee, of Grimes, Iowa, had been hoping to start a family with his wife after he completed his duty.
Together, the couple had dreams of settling down and becoming parents.
But now, it seemed like that dream was dashed.
However, Walter Reed urologist Col Robert Dean informed Sgt Lee of a development in fertility medicine that could help him father a child.
The new procedure entailed recovering sperm remaining in the seminal vesicle – which are glands found behind the bladder.
Sperm is stored in the seminal vesicle before ejaculation.
With this procedure, doctors could freeze the existing sperm and thaw it when the Sgt Lee and his wife wanted to get pregnant.
Sgt Lee agreed to the procedure, and using an ultrasound, Col Dean inserted a long thin needle through the rectal wall and into Sgt Lee’s seminal vesicle.
He suctioned out between 40,000 to 6.4 million sperm, which is sufficient for numerous IVF cycles.
Only six patients have undergone the procedure since it became available in 2012.