Release Date: 01/29/2013

Last month, 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 who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq, will be joined at the briefing by the surgeons who performed the transplants. 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.

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Patrick L. Basile, M.D., assistant chief of plastic surgery and director of microsurgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Gerald Brandacher, M.D., scientific director of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Program

James Higgins, chief of the Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

W. P. Andrew Lee, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and head of the team that performed the transplant

Brendan Marrocco, patient, and members of his family

Jaimie Shores, M.D., clinical director of hand transplantation at The Johns Hopkins Hospital


  1. The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
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