Soldier with rare double-arm transplant amazed - New York News

Soldier with rare double-arm transplant amazed

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Brendan Marrocco (center) Brendan Marrocco (center)
Brendan Marrocco Brendan Marrocco
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BALTIMORE -

Twenty-six-year-old Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs in an explosion while serving in Iraq.

"I hated not having arms. I was alright with not having legs," says Marrocco.

Six weeks ago, he had a double arm transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

"Only six other patients have undergone a successful double hand transplant in the U.S. and Brendan's surgery was the most extensive and complicated arm transplant performed," says Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee.

Sixteen doctors and a host of other medical professionals helped to connect the blood vessels, muscles, nerves and skin of his arms and the donated one. Right now, Marrocco can move his elbow and rotate one arm.

He has no feeling or movement in the hands yet, but says "We'll get there".

"I never really accepted the fact that I didn't have arms, so now that I have them again it's almost like it never happened. It's like I went back four years and I'm me again," says Marrocco.

His house on Staten Island is being cleaned up from the floods of Hurricane Sandy. But his Dodge Charger is still waiting for him.

"I used to love to drive. It was a lot of fun for me. I am really looking forward to getting back to that," says Marrocco.

His proud mom looks forward to his homecoming. "Just surviving and moving forward, he shows the world, you can do anything," says Michelle Marrocco.

The nerves in Marrocco's arms will regenerate at a rate of one inch per month. It'll be 2 or 3 years until he reaches his maximum mobility.

Along the way, he'll be thinking of the anonymous donor and that person's family. "I'm humbled by their gift. They're certainly changing my life and thank you," says Marrocco.

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