US Iraq veteran shows off new arms after transplant - video

Jan 30, 2013

Brendan Marrocco, who lost all four limbs in bomb blast, has undergone the most complex arm transplant ever

THE FIRST American soldier to survive losing all four limbs - to a roadside bomb in Iraq – has appeared before the media to show off the new arms he now has thanks to the most complex double arm transplant ever attempted. He said he was looking forward to driving a car and taking up the Paralympic sport of hand-cycling.

Brendan Marrocco, 26, lost both legs above the knee, his left arm below the elbow and his right arm above the elbow when he encountered a roadside bomb in northern Iraq in 2009. He also lost 80 per cent of his blood in the explosion.

On 18 December, after a four-year wait for a donor, he underwent a 13-hour operation (pictured below) to give him two new arms and hands at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Marrocco was chosen for the operation because of the "extraordinary resilience" he had shown doctors, The Times reports.

Speaking for the first time since the operation, Marrocco told reporters: "Not having arms takes so much away from you. You talk with your hands, you do so much with your hands, When you don't have that, you're kind of lost for a while.

"I just want to get to the point where I can be completely on my own and just get back to enjoying life."

Marrocco already has some control of his new left hand, though progress has been slower on the right side. He will undergo up to six hours of physiotherapy a day.

Although it was the seventh such double transplant, surgeons said it was the most complicated one so far. The procedure, pioneered by Dr Andrew Lee, the hospital's head of plastic surgery, also involved an infusion of the deceased donor’s bone marrow cells to stop the limbs being rejected.

His new arms should, in time, allow Marrocco to support himself and walk unaided on prosthetic legs. "Other patients who have undergone similar transplants have ultimately been able to tie their shoelaces and use chopsticks," said the Daily Telegraph.

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