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Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island New York was the first US soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to survive a quadruple amputation and the first person to receive a bilateral arm transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the seventh in the United States.
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On January 15, 2008, Staten Island Native Brendon Marrocco entered service in the United States Army. He completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia on May 2, 2008, after which, he volunteered for service in the Infantry. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
During the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009, while returning to base after a night mission, Marrocco's vehicle sustained a direct hit by an Explosive Formed Projectile (EFP) resulting in one fatality and two injuries. As a result of the EFP entering the vehicle through his door, he sustained severe, permanent and life changing injuries.
His injuries include:
- Amputation of both arms and both legs;
- Severed left carotid artery;
- Broken nose, left eye socket and facial bones;
- Loss of eight teeth;
- Shrapnel to the left eye and face;
- Severe lacerations to the face;
- Burns to the neck and face; and
- Pierced left eardrum.
Within three days, he was transported to the US Army trauma hospital in Tikrit, Iraq where he underwent emergency surgeries before being transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center via the Joint Operating Base in Balad, Iraq and Landstuhl Medical Center, Germany. Brendan regained consciousness on April 15 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
In December 2012, a surgical team, lead by W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D. of Johns Hopkins Hospital, performed the hospital's first bilateral arm transplant. The surgery took thirteen hours. The surgery connected the bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves, and skin on both arms, extending his left arm from the elbow and his right from below the shoulder. The transplant was coupled with a treatment of the deceased donors bone marrow cells to help prevent rejection of the new limbs.
The study is sponsored by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine of the U.S. Department of Defense. Marrocco made his first public appearance after the surgery at 11:00 AM EST on January 29, 2013 in a press conference with his doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the Bunting Family Interfaith Chapel.
Brendan is currently recovering and undergoing physical and occupational therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His home on Staten Island was retrofitted and rebuilt by the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation and Homes for Heroes. Marrocco's brother, Michael, lives with him and acts as his 24-hour non-medical assistant.
Brendan appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman on Monday March 3, 2014 as the second guest of the evening. During the broadcast Mr. Marrocco displayed his usual charisma and charm as the back and forth with Dave progressed. The night is most memorable, however, for Brendan's closing quote in reference to a recent trip to the 2014 Daytona 500...."how f***king cool is this?!" The quote references Brendan's revelation that he was holding his hand over his heart during the national anthem while on the starting grid at Daytona. After an extended ovation for his bravado Dave responded "It is very f***king cool!"