A former Marine sergeant who lost all four limbs after standing on a homemade bomb in Afghanistan has received a double arm transplant.
John Peck, 31, stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in 2010, obliterating his legs and left arm. He later lost the other arm to an infection.
But now, after six years as a quadruple amputee, the decorated veteran has made it through a 14-hour operation to receive two new arms.
His arms are scarred and move awkwardly but his doctors say he is making progress and they expect nine to 12 months of rehabilitation.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Peck said the best things about it all is that he can hold his fiancee’s hand again.
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Former Marine John Peck, 31, has received a double arm transplant six years after stepping on a homemade bomb in Afghanistan in 2010. He is pictured after his operation
A team of 12 surgeons and another dozen of different specialisms at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital worked nearly 14 hours to perform the bilateral arm transplant (pictured)
Peck now faces months of rehab to learn how to lift his arms, his fingers, use a fork, and write
He said he cannot stop staring at his ‘perfect’ arms which match his skin tone and body
‘I wanted to move forward with my life,’ he said.
‘It’s kind of been on a time-out right now.’
It has been a long journey for the Illinois-born Marine, who is now a motivational speaker and hopes to use his new arms to fulfill his dream of becoming a chef.
Three years before losing his limbs, Peck was serving in Iraq.
During his service he suffered a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle hit an IED.
Undeterred, he went on to serve in Afghanistan.
Peck (left) before losing his arms, and (right) in hospital in 2010 after stepping on a bomb
The Illinois-born Marine said he hated his prosthetic limbs, and feared it would be for life
Peck was approved for a double arm transplant in August 2014
In 2010, he stepped on another IED. It exploded, obliterating all four of his limbs.
Peck was approved for a double arm transplant in August 2014.
Two years later, he received a call telling him to come in to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the procedure.
A team of 12 surgeons and another dozen of different specialisms worked nearly 14 hours to perform the bilateral arm transplant.
‘As soon as Dr Talbot called me, I knew, and I just broke down.
‘I was crying because I was happy. But then my mind switched and it became… I mean, somebody died.
He received a call telling him to come in for the procedure in August this year
Dr Simon Talbot examines Peck’s stumps as they get ready to perform the surgery
Mixed feelings: Peck said he was excited but sad to think that his donor had died
The team marked out the points at which they could attach the skin and rewire the nerves
‘I just want [the donor family] to know that this gift, it’s not going to go to waste at all.’
The first thing he did was to put a bracelet honoring his Marine brothers on his wrist.
He now faces months of rehab to learn how to lift his arms, flex his fingers, use a fork, and write.
But for now, he is content simply marveling at his new arms.
‘I loved them the minute I looked at them,’ he said.
‘I looked down, it seemed natural. It was just a perfect match. The skin color is a perfect match, the size – of course I had swelling but the size is a perfect match. Everything was just perfect.’
Shortly after his operation in August, Peck proposed to his girlfriend Sara Paker.
Shortly after his operation in August, Peck proposed to his girlfriend Sara Paker (pictured)