A U.S. soldier who lost all four limbs in Iraq was released from a hospital near Washington Tuesday after a rare double arm transplant.
Brendan Marrocco, 26, told reporters it is “amazing” to have arms again after losing them to a roadside bomb in 2009. He is the first U.S. soldier from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to survive losing all four limbs.
Marrocco is expected to undergo rehabilitation for the next few years while improving the use of his new limbs.
“I hated not having arms. I was all right with not having legs. Not having arms takes so much away from you, out of even your personality. You talk with your hands, you do everything with your hands, basically, and when you don’t have that, you’re kind of lost for a while.”
He said having arms again makes him feel like he has gone back four years, to the time before he was wounded. He also said he is looking forward to swimming, competing in a wheelchair marathon, and driving a car again.
At Tuesday’s news conference, he pushed his own wheelchair and brushed his hair out of his eyes.
Despite years of recovery ahead of him, he says he is excited about the future.
“It feels amazing. It’s something that I was waiting for for a long time, and now that it finally happened, I, I really don’t know what to say, because it’s just such a big thing for my life and it’s just fantastic.”
Doctors say that after the 13-hour procedure they gave Marrocco infusions of bone marrow from the arm donor to reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs, which can have side effects.
In the months prior to the procedure, doctors rehearsed the operation four times, using cadavers to practice reattaching bone, muscle, nerves and blood vessels.
Hand and Arm Transplants
- 2012 Brendan Marrocco becomes seventh person in the U.S. to undergoes successful double arm transplants
- 2008 World’s first double arm transplant performed in Germany
- 2000 World’s first double hand transplant performed in France
- 1999 First hand transplants performed in the U.S. and China
- 1998 French doctors perform hand transplant, hand is removed three years later at patient’s request
- 1964 Doctors in Ecuador perform hand transplant, which is rejected two weeks later
- Marrocco underwent a 13-hour surgery December 18 to attach his new arms, and has been recovering since then. He told reporters he does not mind using prosthetic legs, but had missed using his own hands.