Marine Veteran Receives the Gift of New Arms

October 11, 2016 Brigham and Women's Hospital

Retired Marine Sergeant John Peck is pictured recovering after undergoing a bilateral arm transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

This summer, now-retired Marine Sergeant John Peck received the remarkable gift of new arms. Six years ago, Peck stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan during his second tour of duty. He lost both of his legs and a large part of each arm. Later, he developed an infection, which required a further amputation of his left arm to save his life. For two months after the blast, Peck remained at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He has since undergone more than two dozen surgeries to address his injuries.

In August 2014, Peck completed an evaluation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) for a double-arm transplant. This summer, he received a call from Dr. Simon Talbot, Director of Upper Extremity Transplantation at BWH, with news that his bilateral arm transplant would take place at BWH. A multidisciplinary team — including 12 surgeons — worked nearly 14 hours to transplant the arms, one below the elbow and one above.

Today, Peck is relearning how to perform basic tasks with his hands, such as picking things up, eating, brushing his teeth, getting in and out of a wheelchair and, perhaps most important to him, holding the hand of his fiancée, Jessica. His new arms also serve another special purpose. He is able to wear a memorial bracelet on his wrist that honors the memory of a friend killed in action.

In a press conference at BWH, Peck gave special thanks to his anonymous donor and the donor’s family for making the transplant possible. “Every day when I look down at my new arms, I will drive on through the pain and I will never give up,” Peck said. “I will remember my donor’s selflessness and his gift until the day I die. I want the family to know that I appreciate their bravery and courage in making the decision to donate their loved one’s organs. I assure them that I will not let this gift go to waste.”

To date, the BWH restorative surgery team has performed four bilateral arm transplants. Learn more about John Peck’s inspiring journey in the video below and other videos, photos, and animations detailing his procedure.

 

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