Twenty-six-year-old Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs while serving in Iraq, but gained two arms this winter while in Baltimore. The young Army veteran is the first service member to ever receive a double arm transplant and is only the seventh in the country to have such an operation.
When an IED exploded on Easter in 2009, Brendan lost both his legs above the knee and one arm below the elbow and one arm above. Needless to say, an arm transplant is not an easy task physically or emotionally, but Brendan was excited about it.
He tweeted in mid-December: "Holy mother of god I was just told I might be having my transplant tomorrow! #nervous."
And there was a lot to be nervous about -- this type of procedure has only been preformed 67 times worldwide and the amount of prep that goes into a double arm transplant is astounding. With four teams comprised of three surgeons each, doctors worked non-stop to give Brendan another chance at life with arms.
After recovering from the surgery, Brendan returned home to Staten Island where a crew of volunteers had outfitted his home to be comfortable for a quadruple amputee with two new arms.
While there are no certainties when it comes to his body's acceptance of the new limbs, the surgeons said Brendan made an excellent candidate because of his positive outlook and sky's-the-limit attitude.
So what does Brendan want to do with these new puppies? At a press conference at John Hopkins hospital, he said:
I just want to get the most out of these arms, and just as goals come up, knock them down and take it absolutely as far as I can.
From the sound of things, Brendan's ready to make the most of this amazing gift. Oh, and if you're wondering who the arms belonged to before Brendan, that's kept between the doctors and him.
It's wonderful this soldier has received a second chance at something we all take for granted. Here's hoping Brendan and his new arms thrive in 2013.
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Photo via Official US Naval Imagery/Flickr