Former Marine undergoes double arm transplant

Sgt John Peck (CBS News)
Sgt John Peck (CBS News)

A former Marine sergeant who underwent a double arm transplant at a Boston hospital says the best things about having arms again is that he can hold his fiancee's hand and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a chef.

Sgt John Peck started by thanking the anonymous donor during a news conference on Wednesday, at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"My deepest condolences to my donor's family. I'm not even going to try to know what you're going through at this time, but I will tell you this, your loved one's death will be for nothing," he said.

"Every day that I look down at our new arms I will drive on through the pain. I will never give up. I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die and will not take it for granted."

His arms are scarred and move awkwardly, but his doctors say he is making progress and they expect nine to 12 months of rehabilitation.

Sgt Peck said the immediate recovery was difficult.

"The pain has been tremendous at first. There was one night in the ICU, I believe it was the first night that I had a bad night," he said.

"I believe the anaesthesia was beginning to wear off and I wanted to call Dr Talbot to tell him to come and re-amputate my arm."

Sgt Peck lost his legs and left arm when he stepped on a homemade bomb in Afghanistan in May 2010. He later lost the other arm because of an infection.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hand and arm transplants have been performed on more than 85 people around the world.

Sgt Peck says he won't let his losses stop him from following his dreams.

"My dream job since I was 12 was to be a chef and because of my donor's gift I actually have a fighting chance of doing this," he said.

"I plan on going to culinary school, traveling to Paris and Italy to learn about their techniques, coming back and competing on the next Food Network Star to hopefully hear Giada and Bobby Flay say, 'John Peck, you are the next Food Network Star'."

CBS News