This is freaking awesome! A warrior cheats death and losses
his arms only to become a successful recipient to new arms. I can’t imagine losing
my arms, then getting them back. My hat goes off to this warrior and all like
him battling through these challenges. This may open the door to many warriors that
need new limbs. Your warriors will walk through fire if they know you have their backs and when they look at those corpsman to help, those corpsman perform miracles. Only in America could someone get this medical attention!
(CBS News) The most amazing story we saw Tuesday involves a courageous
young U.S. Army sergeant severely wounded in Iraq and the incredible
surgery that gave him arms back.
Not prosthetic arms, but two real human arms.
The operation on 26-year-old Sgt. Brendan Marrocco of New York was performed in December.
On Monday, we got our first look at the results. When Marrocco moved his arms, he made medical history.
"I feel like I got a second chance to start over after I got hurt," he said at a news conference.
He was gesturing with transplanted arms -- real arms from an anonymous donor who died.
"It feels amazing. It's something I was waiting for, for a long time,"
Marrocco said. "Now that it finally happened, I really don't know what
to say because it's such a big thing for my life, just fantastic."
Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island, N.Y., wearing a
prosthetic arm, poses for a picture at the 9/11 Memorial in New York on
July 4, 2012./ AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File
Amazing and fantastic because Marrocco was the first quadruple amputee
from America's wars to survive -- just barely, as he told us the first
time we met him nearly three years ago.
"I died three times and came back ... flat out dead," he told CBS News in 2010.
His vehicle had been hit in Iraq in 2009 by an Iranian-made roadside
bomb, which severed his carotid artery and tore off all four of his
Marrocco said the lack of arms is a lot more difficult than the lack of legs.
"Without legs you can still be independent, you know. Without arms there's so much more that you can't do," he said.
A team of 16 surgeons led by Dr. Andrew Lee at Johns Hopkins
University Hospital in Baltimore performed the 13-hour surgery last
month. Before that, there had been only six successful double hand
transplants, and never anything like this.
"We knew arm transplants can help people, but we didn't know whether we could transplant so high up in the arm," Lee said.
He will have to go through years of physical therapy, which meant the
decision to do the transplant was as much psychological as medical.
"With our experience, and with the determination and stamina that
Brendan Marrocco has demonstrated, we had no doubt that this was the
right thing to do for him," Lee said.
His doctors predicted Marrocco will be using his hands for just about everything.
"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," he said.
Marrocco was discharged from the hospital Tuesday. No one will be
watching his recovery more closely than four other servicemen who have
since joined him as survivors of quadruple amputations.
CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook explained while the
transplant process is complicated, it's not impossible. The first step
was to connect the bones using plates and screws. Then the muscles and
tendons were connected, and then the blood vessels -- arteries and
veins. They are crucial in bringing nourishment to the arm, LaPook
Arm transplant / Johns Hopkins University
The nerves from Marrocco's body will slowly grow down the transplanted
arm at a rate of about one inch a month, LaPook said. It will be many
months, and even years, with intensive physical therapy before he gets
back whatever function he's going to eventually regain.
In order to prevent the body from rejecting the new transplants,
doctors took bone marrow cells from the arm donor's spine and gave them
to Brendan. Those cells trick his immune system into thinking these new
arms are his own, and allows doctors to use online one anti-rejection
drug instead of the usual three. This strategy has only been used in
five other patients.