Dream in dou­ble-arm re­cip­i­ent’s reach

Baltimore Sun - - NATION -

BOS­TON — A for­mer Marine sergeant who un­der­went a dou­ble-arm trans­plant said Wed­nes­day that the best part about hav­ing arms again is that he can hold his fi­ancee’s hand and pur­sue his life­long dream of be­com­ing a chef.

Re­tired Sgt. John Peck, who lost all four limbs as the re­sult of an ex­plo­sion of a home­made bomb in Afghanistan in May 2010, un­der­went 14 hours of surgery at Brigham and Wom- en’s Hospi­tal in Au­gust. The pro­ce­dure in­volved 60 doc­tors, nurses and other med­i­cal per­son­nel.

His arms are scarred and move awk­wardly, but ev­ery day with the new limbs is bet­ter, he said at a news con­fer­ence at the hospi­tal. He is learn­ing to dress him­self, brush his teeth and feed him­self all over again.

The first time he held fi­ancee Jes­sica Paker’s hand af­ter the surgery, he couldn’t even feel it, but it still meant the world.

“That truly is a spe­cial gift,” he said, adding later that he can now feel pres­sure when she squeezes.

Peck, 31, will prob­a­bly need nine to 12 months of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion be­fore the nerves are fully func­tional again, said Dr. Si­mon Tal­bot, the lead sur­geon.

Peck, orig­i­nally from An­ti­och, Ill., lives in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va. He said he’s wanted to be a chef since he was 12.

“As a re­sult of surgery, I’ll be able to pur­sue my dreams,” he said. He’s al­ready started cook­ing but be­cause he doesn’t have full feel­ing in the new limbs, he has to be care­ful he doesn’t cut or burn him­self. He plans to visit France and Italy to hone his craft, he said.

Peck also thanked the donor, whose fam­ily wishes to re­main anony­mous.

“I will re­mem­ber his self­less­ness and gift un­til the day I die,” he said.

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

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