SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 29, 2013

Soldier who lost 4 limbs undergoes arms transplant

(Continued)

Brendan Marrocco has been in public many times. During a July 4 visit last year to the Sept. 11 Memorial with other disabled soldiers, he said he had no regrets about his military service.

“I wouldn’t change it in any way. ... I feel great. I’m still the same person,” he said.

The 13-hour operation was led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, plastic surgery chief at Johns Hopkins. It was the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant done in the United States.

Lee led three of those earlier operations when he worked at the University of Pittsburgh, including the only above-elbow transplant that had been done at the time, in 2010.

Marrocco’s “was the most complicated one” so far, Lee said in an interview Monday. It will take more than a year to know how fully Marrocco will be able to use the new arms.

“The maximum speed is an inch a month for nerve regeneration,” he explained. “We’re easily looking at a couple years” until the full extent of recovery is known.

While at Pittsburgh, Lee pioneered the immune-suppression approach used for Marrocco. The surgeon led hand-transplant operations on five patients, giving them marrow from their donors in addition to the new limbs. All five recipients have done well, and four have been able to take just one anti-rejection drug instead of combination treatments most transplant patients receive.

Minimizing anti-rejection drugs is important because they have side effects and raise the risk of cancer over the long term. Those risks have limited the willingness of surgeons and patients to do more hand, arm and even face transplants.

Lee has received funding for his work from AFIRM, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a cooperative research network of top hospitals and universities around the country that the government formed about five years ago. With government money, he and several other plastic surgeons around the country are preparing to do more face transplants, possibly using the new immune-suppression approach.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • 140801_SN_DLE_BEVDEPOT10 PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Beverly MBTA garage opens Current and former state and city officials gathered Friday, Aug. 1, to celebrate the opening of Beverly's brand-new MBTA parking garage.

    August 2, 2014

  • Hunt underway after reported kidnapping at knife point in Wenham

    Police in Wenham and surrounding towns as well as state police units are searching for a man who reportedly kidnapped a 21-year-old Wenham woman at knife point Friday night.

    August 1, 2014

  • Police in helicopters spot marijuana plants in Salem, Peabody PEABODY -- The state police buzzed over Peabody by helicopter this week and spotted marijuana plants growing outside a home on St. Ann's Avenue. A ground unit was alerted and cut down the plants. The operation was part of regular "marijuana eradicati

    August 1, 2014

  • 140801_SN_DLE_BEVDEPOT3.jpg Beverly MBTA garage opens

    Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Mike Cahill opened the new MBTA parking garage Friday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the roof.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sex offender found in New Hampshire

    The Level 3 sex offender who allegedly cut off his GPS bracelet and absconded after he was spotted with a 16-year-old boy, in violation of his probation in a child rape case, has been arrested in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    August 1, 2014