Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soldier Gets Rare Double-Arm Transplant

Via Cousin Colby

Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco plays catch with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the quadruple amputee is rehabilitating his two newly transplanted arms. Megan McCloskey/Stars and Stripes

Perched on a therapy table at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the few quadruple amputees from the Iraq War reached up over his head with both hands and launched a pink ball to the Marine Corps commandant.

Five months ago, Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco’s arms belonged to someone else.

Marrocco, who was blown up in 2009, is the first soldier to receive a double arm transplant -- and just the seventh successful recipient in the United States.

Marrocco didn’t have any physical sensation of the plastic ball in his hands, but he managed a pretty good zip as he played catch with Gen. James Amos on Wednesday.

“Mentally, they’re all mine,” Marrocco said about his new limbs. “Physically, I can’t feel them.”
Doctors estimate it could be two years before he gets feeling all the way down to his finger tips, as nerve tissue regenerates about an inch a month.

In December, a 16-surgeon team at Hopkins attached two cadaver arms to Marrocco in a 13-hour operation that started at 1 a.m. His remaining nerves, muscles, bones, blood vessels and tendons in his upper arms were intricately connected to the donor arms, and eventually, as the nerves come to life down the arm, the limbs will move like they were his own -- albeit less than 100 percent functional.

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