Iraq War Vet Gets Double Arm Transplant - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

Iraq War Vet Gets Double Arm Transplant

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(ABC News)--A team of surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital has performed the hospital's first successful bilateral arm transplant -- giving two new arms to Brendan Marrocco, an Iraq war veteran.

One month after getting his two new arms, Marrocco tweeted on Jan. 18, "Ohh yeah today has been one month since my surgery and they already move a little."

Members of Marrocco's surgical team, led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, were expected to give details today in Baltimore on exactly how the doctors did the rare transplant and prevented Marrocco's body from rejecting the new limbs.

Marrocco, 26, lost his arms and legs when his unit was struck by an explosive fired projectile outside Baghdad, Iraq. He is one of only seven people to receive successful double hand transplants in the United States.

Last September, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston announced it would perform the nation's first double arm transplant. Katy Hayes lost both her arms above the elbow and her legs above her knees after a developing a flesh-eating bacteria infection while pregnant with her third child. Today, Hayes is able to speak to audiences and share her story.

Not all arm transplants are successful. In February 2010, a Turkish man who lost all four of his limbs after he was electrocuted in 1998, Sevket Cavdar, received two arms and two legs following a 20-hour operation at Hacettepe University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey. But doctors eventually had to amputate all four of the transplanted limbs because of "metabolic complications," according to a statement from the hospital.

Marrocco received the arm transplants and bone marrow from a deceased donor -- a method shown to prevent rejection and reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs that can lead to organ damage and infection. His transplants required the connection of bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves as well as skin on both arms resulting in "the most extensive and complicated limb transplant procedure to be performed in the U.S.," according to a statement from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Copyright 2013 by ABC News

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