Brendan Marrocco was the first soldier to have lost all his limbs in the Iraq War and survived. In 2009, a road-side bomb went off and turned him into a paraplegic. Four years later, a transplant surgery changed his fate.
He told The Huffington Post that he could get by living without legs, but he hated living without arms.
“Not having arms takes so much away from you. Even your personality, you know. You talk with your hands. You do everything with your hands, and when you don’t have that, you’re kind of lost for a while,” the 26-year-old said. Thanks to an unbelievable transplant surgery, Marrocco got his arms and hands back.
According to the report by HuffPo’s, Alex Dominguez, Marrocco “insisted on rolling his own wheelchair into a news conference using his new transplanted arms. Then he brushed his hair to one side.” The act of brushing aside his hair, which would go un-noted in most patients, is an incredible feat for Marrocco and a credit to the surgery’s success. Marrocco only just got his new arms and hands six weeks ago. It’s not an outcome many foresee for a man wounded by a roadside bomb. The news-conference, covered by HuffPo, was in celebration of a milestone in his recovery–the day he was discharged from the hospital.
Although the use of his arms is inspiring, the surgery is still fresh. Doctors don’t want him using them too much, but “his gritty determination to regain independence was one of the chief reasons he was chosen to receive the surgery, which has been performed in the U.S. only seven times,” HuffPo reports.
Marrocco’s message for wounded soldiers is to not give up. “[B]e stubborn,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who will say you can’t do something. Just be stubborn and do it anyway. Work your ass off and do it.”
Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, head of the team that conducted the surgery, said Marrocco will be able to do most of what he did before he was wounded. Another patient who received an arm transplant can tie his shoes and use chopsticks. He said Marrocco’s recovery has been remarkable, and has helped ”restore physical and psychological well-being.”
Marrocco’s mother, Michelle Marrocco, said he can’t hug her yet, so he brushes his left arm against her face.
The first time he moved his left arm was a complete surprise, an involuntary motion while friends were visiting him in the hospital, he said.
“I had no idea what was going through my mind. I was with my friends, and it happened by accident,” he recalled. “One of my friends said `Did you do that on purpose?’ And I didn’t know I did it.”
For the full report, visit Huffington Post Good News.
ABC posted a video of the news conference, in which Dr. Lee and Marrocco talk about the experience and the progress they’ve made so far: