Soldier Who Had Double-Arm Transplant At Hopkins Looks Forward To Driving

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After the trauma of losing both arms and legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq, an Army veteran now says he has a second chance at life.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s been made possible with two new arms transplanted in a Johns Hopkins surgery.

As hard as it is to get around without legs, it was impossible for Brendan Marrocco to do some things…until he got his two new arms.

“His hope to lead a more normal life has been greatly boosted by the first double-arm transplant at Johns Hopkins,” said Hopkins surgeon Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee.

“It’s given me a lot of hope for the future. I feel like I’m getting a second chance to start over after I got hurt,” Marrocco said.

He was hurt in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq four years ago. Since then, he’s worked to adapt to a prosthetic arm and legs.

“I hated not having arms. I was alright with not having legs. Not having arms takes so much away from you, even your personality. You talk with your hands. You do everything with your hands. When you don’t have that, you’re kind of lost for a while,” he said.

He’s finding his way now after a 13-hour surgery last month when a family choosing to remain anonymous donated the arms after losing a loved one.

“I’m humbled by their gift. They’re certainly changing my life and thank you,” he said.

But it’s going to take time to complete that change.

“Currently, I don’t have feeling or movement in the hands yet but we’ll get there,” he said.

Restoring feeling depends upon nerve growth. The best prognosis is about one inch per month.

“There are many, many inches and indeed many, many months and a couple of years for that matter, before function will return,” Lee said.

Brendan Marrocco is only the seventh person to receive arm transplants. When fully recovered, the first thing he wants to do is drive his car.

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