In December 2012, a surgical team led by Johns Hopkins physicians performed The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s first bilateral arm transplant, together with an innovative treatment to prevent rejection of the new limbs. That treatment entailed an infusion of the deceased donor’s bone marrow cells, and has so far succeeded in both preventing rejection and reducing the need for anti-rejection drugs, which can cause complications such as infection and organ damage.
The patient, Brendan M. Marrocco, a 26-year-old infantryman, lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq. Marrocco received a transplant of two arms from a deceased donor, becoming one of only seven people in the United States who have undergone successful double hand transplants. His transplants involved the connection of bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves and skin on both arms, and was the most extensive and complicated limb transplant procedure so far performed in the United States. Marrocco also agreed to participate in a study of the new anti-rejection regimen, which lead surgeon W. P. Andrew Lee, M.D., hopes to make the new standard of care for limb and face transplants. The study is sponsored by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Marrocco and his surgeons spoke at press conference at The Johns Hopkins Hospital on January 29, 2013. Here are some highlights of the press coverage.