Team of doctors successfully perform double arm transplant on veteran

The most extensive bilateral arm transplant to date has been successfully achieved thanks to an interdisciplinary team of doctors and nurses at John Hopkins Hospital. The operation, which was performed on December 18, lasted 13 hours and involved 16 physicians from orthopedics, vascular medicine, plastic surgery, and other disciplines from five hospitals.
Today, the 26-year-old patient, Sergeant Brendan Marrocco, can flex his left arm at the elbow along with slightly rotating his wrist, though the feeling in his hands have not returned.
For the procedures, two different approaches were involved for each arm to preserve Brendan’s residual limbs. As Dr. Andrew Lee, who headed the transplant team, reported to KTLA, the right arm had “an above-elbow transplant by connecting the bone, muscles, blood vessels, nerves and skin between the donor [arm] and recipient.” For the left side, the elbow joint was preserved, as were some of the nerves, so the team “transplanted the entire donor forearm muscles over his remaining tissues, then rerouted the nerves to the new muscle.” Because of the complexity involved in connecting all the tissues together, the team practiced on cadaver arms four times over a span of 18 months prior to the surgery.