A US army veteran has had a double arm transplant after losing all four limbs in a roadside bomb-blast in Iraq.
Surgeons at Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital released images of Brendan Marrocco’s staggering operation yesterday, ahead of a press conference at which Marrocco himself spoke.
The 26-year-old said he is now looking forward to driving and swimming, adding: “I just want to get the most out of these arms, and just as goals come up, knock them down and take it absolutely as far as I can.”
The New York-born army sergeant said that he has been coping fine using prosthetic legs since he was wounded in 2009, but had struggled to come to terms with the loss of his arms.
“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.
Dr Jaimie Shores, John Hopkins Hospital’s director of hand transplantation said: “He's a young man with a tremendous amount of hope, and he's stubborn - stubborn in a good way…I think the sky's the limit.”
Shores said Marrocco has already been trying to use his hands, although he lacks feeling in the fingers, and he's eager to do more as the slow-growing nerves and muscles mend.
Marrocco is the first soldier to survive losing all four limbs in the Iraq War, and the procedure was only the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant ever done in the United States.
Marrocco said his chief desire is to drive the black Dodge Charger that's been sitting in his garage for three years, and he also plans to swim and compete in a marathon using a hand-cycle.
Marrocco expects to spend three to four months at the John Hopkins Hospital, then return to a military hospital to continue his physical therapy.