A former United States Marine who lost both arms in an explosion in Afghanistan has received a double arm transplant.
Sgt. John Peck, who was injured in 2010, had the operation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Peck lost both legs and his left arm as a result of the explosion. His right arm had to be amputated after it became infected. He was in a coma for three months.
The 14-hour surgery was performed over the summer when the arms of a brain dead young man became available. It took at team of 60 surgeons, nurses and other technicians, according to CBS News.
It will take some time before Peck will be able to use his new limbs as nerve connections can take a long time to develop. The process can be painful.
“As those nerves grow back, sometimes they can give unusual sensations to people, sensations like electric shocks and sensations like burning,” Dr. Simon Talbot, the lead surgeon, told CBS.
Peck confirmed the pain.
“There was one night in the ICU, I was crying. I was in a lot of pain, even through all the meds I was on. I contemplated calling the doctor and being like, ‘Look, doctor, I can’t handle this pain right now. You gotta take these arms off me,’” Peck told CBS.
Now, two months into his recovery, Peck’s main concern is that his body might reject the new limbs.
“Any day my body can say, nope, not having it. And then go back to Brigham and get my arms re-amputated even higher than I was before,” Peck said.
In the meantime, Peck is wearing braces on his new arm to protect them. It could be up to a year before sensation returns to his new fingers.
Worldwide, the number of people who have received arm or hand transplants is less than 100, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.