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Double-arm Transplant for Soldier Who Lost Four Limbs

29 Jan 2013

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290113T.Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco.jpg - 290113T.Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco.jpg

Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island, N.Y., wearing a prosthetic arm, poses for a picture

AP

The first soldier to survive after losing all four limbs in the Iraq war has received a double-arm transplant.

Brendan Marrocco had the operation on Dec. 18 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, his father said Monday. The 26-year-old Marrocco, who is from New York City, was injured by a roadside bomb in 2009, reports The Associated Press.

He also received bone marrow from the same dead donor who supplied his new arms. That novel approach is aimed at helping his body accept the new limbs with minimal medication to prevent rejection.

The military is sponsoring operations like these to help wounded troops. About 300 have lost arms or hands in the wars.

"He was the first quad amputee to survive" from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there have been four others since then, said Brendan Marrocco's father, Alex Marrocco. "He was really excited to get new arms."

The Marroccos want to thank the donor's family for "making a selfless decision ... making a difference in Brendan's life," the father said.

Surgeons plan to discuss the transplant at a news conference with the patient on Tuesday.

The 13-hour operation was led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, plastic surgery chief at Johns Hopkins, and is the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant done in the United States. Lee led three of those earlier operations when he previously worked at the University of Pittsburgh, including the only above-elbow transplant that had been done at the time, in 2010.

Marrocco's "was the most complicated one" so far, Lee said in an interview Monday. It will take more than a year to know how fully Marrocco will be able to use the new arms, Lee said.

Tags: Health, Featured, DOUBLE-ARM TRANSPLANT, Soldier, FOUR LIMBS

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