Staten Island native Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs to a roadside bomb in northern Iraq. He was driving an armored vehicle as part of the 2nd Battalion of the Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment when the bomb went off. He was the first and remains one of only four individuals to survive such an injury.
Marrocco is one of only seven people in the United States to undergo a double-arm or double-hand transplant.
The extremely complicated surgery was led by Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, Johns Hopkins’ world-renowned chief of plastic surgery.
Lee yesterday said the operation — the fourth double-arm or -hand transplant he has done — “was the most complicated one” yet.
He employed a relatively novel approach to ensure it worked: transplanting the limb donor’s bone marrow as well to reduce the need for anti-rejection medications. Such medicine has side effects and can increase a patient’s chance of cancer.
The surgery — which involved connecting bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves and skin — appears to have been a success.
The rehab process will take a long time but for this former GI it is worth every moment.