Quadruple Amptutee Gets New Arms -Video Links

This amazing soldier was released from Johns Hopkins after a 13 hour surgery to implant arms from a cadaver in December. The following is from CNN.com – CBS video links follow:

A U.S. Army infantryman who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside explosion in Iraq has undergone radical transplant surgery that may help him regain use of his arms.

Last month, the 26-year-old infantryman had successful surgery — a rare double arm transplant — at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The surgery, which took 13 hours and 16 orthopaedic and microvascular surgeons from five hospitals — was also the first bilateral arm transplant performed at Johns Hopkins. All of the surgeons volunteered their services; the surgery and rehabilitation costs were paid by the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Hopkins.

“On his right side we did an above-elbow transplant by connecting the bone, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and skin between the donor and recipient,” said lead surgeon Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, director of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins. On Marrocco’s left side, “in order to preserve the elbow joint, we transplanted the entire donor forearm muscles over his remaining tissues, then rerouted the nerves to the new muscle.”

While Marrocco is doing well, his recovery will be long and risky, the doctor said. “The nerves regenerate at the maximum speed of 1 inch per month. The therapy will continue for a few years, first at Johns Hopkins, then at Walter Reed. The progress will be slow, but the outcome rewarding.”

Marrocco is taking anti-rejection medication, which can lead to side effects like infection and organ damage. But he’s received an infusion of the donor’s bone marrow cells to further prevent rejection of his new arms. That infusion allows him to take only one anti-rejection drug instead of the usual three-drug cocktail.

Doctors call his recovery so far remarkable.AboveElbow_RGB_GeneralLabelsWLogo_610x320

“Now, I can move my left elbow,” Marrocco said. “This was my elbow, the one I had before. I can rotate a little bit. This (right) arm is pretty much not much movement at all — not yet at least. Hopefully, we are hopeful for the future to get some pretty good function out of it, out of both of them.”

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