Iraq War Vet Brendan Marrocco's Double Arm Transplant Explained in 5 Clicks
On Easter Sunday 2009, Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island, N.Y., lost both his arms and legs while serving in the Iraq war. His unit was struck by an explosive projectile outside Baghdad. About a year later, he spoke to CBS News of his miraculous survival. "I had no idea I was hurt because I didn't feel anything," he recalled. "It [was] a copper dart, which is molten, so it's extremely hot. So as it went by, it completely cauterized my wounds, so I was barely bleeding from them. I think I was just more happy to be alive than upset. I'm still alive."
Visiting Marrocco in June 2011 at the Staten Island recovery home he helped fund, actor Gary Sinise said, "It's been an honor to give moral support to his family," according to Staten Island Live.
STATE OF INDEPENDENCE
Appearing at the 9/11 Memorial on July 4, 2012, Marrocco was joined by Marine Cpl. Todd Love of Atlanta and Marine Cpl. Juan Dominguez of Deming, N.M., who also had missing limbs. Speaking about the specially equipped "smart home" designed for him from the Stephan Siller Tunnel Foundation, Marrocco told reporters, "Pretty much before I moved in, I always had to have someone around to do something for me if I needed it. Now I can pretty much stay by myself."
TAKING A CHANCE
On Dec. 18, 2012, Marrocco had Johns Hopkins Hospital's first bilateral arm transplant. Plastic surgery chief Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee led the 13-hour operation – the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant done in the United States. Lee has called the procedure "the most complicated one" so far and said it will take more than a year to know how fully Marrocco, 26, will be able to use the new arms. "The maximum speed is an inch a month for nerve regeneration," he explained.
EMBRACING THE FUTURE
Six weeks after the miraculous procedure, Marrocco spoke with a smile at a press conference, saying, "I feel great. I'm doing a lot better now. It gives me a lot of hope for the future." He awaits getting behind the wheel of his black 2006 Dodge Charger and hand-cycling a marathon. "There [are] a lot of people who will say you can't do something," he says. "Just be stubborn and do it anyway. Work your ass off and do it."