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Brendan Marrocco, 26, of New York City, became the first veteran of the Iraq war to lose all four limbs and survive in 2009. Now, he’s the recipient of a rare double-arm transplant and is showing the world the surgery’s success.
Marrocco appeared before the press at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, M.D. to speak about the activities he can’t wait to be able to do after the surgery on Dec. 18.
“I feel like I’m getting a second chance to start over after I got hurt,” Marrocco said, according to NBC News. “I’m excited for the future.”
He is just one of seven people to have a successful double-arm transplant in the U.S. The transplant came from a deceased donor and took 13 hours to complete. The hospital said that the operation was the most complex limb transplant in U.S. history.
Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee said that the slow growth of nerves means that his recovery will be limited. Dr. Jamie Shores added that they “expect it will take two to three years to see what that final function will be.”
“He never quits, he fights to survive,” Marrocco’s grandmother, Giovanna, told The New York Daily News. “He’s very happy, he wanted this transplant. I’m happy, too.”
Marrocco also took to Twitter to talk about his condition, sharing, “Ohh yeah today has been one month since my surgery and they already move a little.” He also shared photos with his followers.
“He’ll be doing therapy to make his hands work six hours a day,” Shores explained. “There’s no amount of surgery we can do to make something work if the patients aren’t going to put an incredible amount of effort into this afterwards. He isn’t just sitting at home playing video games. It’s a full time job. That’s why we picked him. He’s demonstrated how hard he’s willing to work. He’s got that fighting spirit.”
Marrocco’s story has garnered attention from celebrities, like NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, who was inspired by his story. After he tweeted to Marrocco last week, Marrocco wrote, “Dude I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me. I feel like I finally get to start over.”