Retired Infantryman Brendan M. Marrocco wheels himself into a news conference followed by surgeons on Tuesday, Jan. 29. 2013, at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore.
A soldier who lost all four limbs in an Iraq roadside bombing says he looks forward to driving and swimming with his new arms.
Brendan Marrocco spoke at a news conference Tuesday at Johns Hopkins
Hospital in Baltimore. He was joined by the surgeons who performed the
double-arm transplant there.
Marrocco says he's happy and
amazed to have new arms. He has prosthetic legs but says that without
arms, he felt "kind of lost for a while."
"It's given me a lot of hope for the future," Marrocco said. "I feel like it's given me a second chance."
The procedure was only the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant ever conducted in the United States.
W. P. Andrew Lee, the lead surgeon on Marrocco's team, said this
surgery "was the most extensive and complicated" transplant surgery ever
performed, involving the connecting of bone, nerves, blood vessels,
muscles, and other tissue. He said his team had rehearsed four times on
cadavers in the last two years.
Lee said Marrocco, a New York native, will check out of the hospital
Tuesday, and begin outpatient therapy while staying nearby for several
The infantryman was injured by a roadside bomb in 2009. The New York
City man also received bone marrow from the same dead donor to minimize
the medicine needed to prevent rejection.
The military is sponsoring operations like these to help wounded troops. About 300 have lost arms or hands in the wars.
Through all the procedures and the recovery, Marrocco has generally maintained a positive attitude.
In a 2010 interview with CBS News correspondent David Martin, he said: "I just seem to have a good lookout on things. I'm still alive. My buddy wasn't as fortunate."
was referring to one of the other members of his squad, whom he
described as his best friend, who was killed when their Humvee ran over a
"I remember the flash, the sound, it was ridiculously
loud. I remember all the screaming in the truck trying to see who was
hurt. After that I remember waking up in the hospital," Marrocco said.
described the thing that took his limbs as a "copper dart" that was
"molten hot," saying it "cauterized my wounds." The New York native said
he has marveled at the fact that he survived, when others did not,
adding that his friend who died "wasn't hurt nearly as bad as I was."
after waking up in the hospital and realizing that he lost his arms,
Marrocco said his father told him his reaction was relatively
nonchalant, saying "I just shrugged my shoulders and went back to