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Headquarters Marine Corps

Commandant visits Johns Hopkins, visits old friend

By Cpl. Christofer P. Baines | Headquarters Marine Corps | May 10, 2013

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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, left, wife Bonnie Amos, center, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett, right, discuss transplants and emerging medical science with Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, foreground, at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. After the brief, the commandant went to visit bilateral arm transplant success Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, left, wife Bonnie Amos, center, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett, right, discuss transplants and emerging medical science with Dr. W. P. Andrew Lee, foreground, at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. After the brief, the commandant went to visit bilateral arm transplant success Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos talks with Johns Hopkins Hospital medical staff about future developments in the transplant field at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. During the visit, the commandant was briefed about current and emerging science in transplants and participated in a discussion regarding the care and treatment of wounded warriors.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos talks with Johns Hopkins Hospital medical staff about future developments in the transplant field at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. During the visit, the commandant was briefed about current and emerging science in transplants and participated in a discussion regarding the care and treatment of wounded warriors. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, right, shares a moment of levity with Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, left, while discussing his progress with doctors at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, right, shares a moment of levity with Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, left, while discussing his progress with doctors at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, left, and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, right, visit Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, center, at The Johns Hopkins Hospital May 8.  Amos referred Marrocco to the transplant program after seeing the quadruple amputee doing physical therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., in 2009. Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, is the first patient to receive a bilateral arm transplant, and the first living quadruple amputee from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, left, and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, right, visit Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, center, at The Johns Hopkins Hospital May 8. Amos referred Marrocco to the transplant program after seeing the quadruple amputee doing physical therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., in 2009. Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, is the first patient to receive a bilateral arm transplant, and the first living quadruple amputee from Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, left, and Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, right, toss a ball back-and-forth at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here, demonstrating Marroccofs arm function, May 8. Since his December 2012 surgery, Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, has made great progress in using his new arms with physical therapy.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, left, and Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, right, toss a ball back-and-forth at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here, demonstrating Marroccofs arm function, May 8. Since his December 2012 surgery, Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, has made great progress in using his new arms with physical therapy. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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The commandantfs wife, Bonnie Amos, left, embraces Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, right, to say goodbye during a visit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, is the first patient to receive a bilateral arm transplant and the first living quadruple amputee from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The commandantfs wife, Bonnie Amos, left, embraces Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, right, to say goodbye during a visit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8. Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native, is the first patient to receive a bilateral arm transplant and the first living quadruple amputee from Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo by Cpl. Christofer P. Baines)


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BALTIMORE --

The Marine Corps’ top leader visited the first patient to successfully undergo a bilateral arm transplant and discussed medical treatment for wounded warriors with medical staff at The Johns Hopkins Hospital here May 8.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, accompanied by wife Bonnie Amos and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett, met medical staff and visited wounded Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco, who is recovering from the transplant surgery.

Johns Hopkins medical staff explained the details of the procedure and highlighted other successful transplant patients. Amos and the staff discussed the need for transplant procedures and the care of wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan in detail.

Then, the group met Marrocco at a physical therapy room. Marrocco met the commandant previously in 2009 while the solider was at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., for treatment.

Marrocco was injured while driving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle Easter Sunday 2009, when an anti-armor explosive-formed projectile tore through the driver’s door, leaving him so severely wounded all his limbs had to be amputated. He is the first surviving quadruple amputee from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It was kind of a reunion of the first time we met, when he got me into this arm transplant program,” said Marrocco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native. “I was at Walter Reed, and he just happened to be there watching me do physical therapy and came right up and introduced himself, and asked if I’d be interested in it. I just couldn’t say no.”

Amos too recalls that first meeting.

“I just remember him saying, ‘If I could only get one hand, my life would be changed forever,’” said Amos.

With the commandant’s support, Marrocco underwent the surgery three years later.

Marrocco got more than he had hoped. A team of 16 medical personnel successfully performed a 13-hour bilateral arm transplant in December 2012. With hard work, Marrocco stayed ahead of his recovery schedule and is in good spirits, exceeding all expectations.

“There were months where there was no motion, and my job is to just move and keep the joints supple and tendons gliding, making sure nothing scars down,” said Molly Ferris, Marrocco’s physical therapist. “I think, one day, we just saw a flicker in his left hand. It’s such a flicker that you think your mind is playing games, because you want it so bad you think you see it. Then, a few days later, it’s more and more. Then, it just slowly progresses like that.

“He’s in it for the long haul; he’s in here every day on time and ready to go. He knows it’s not a quick fix,” she added.

With his positive attitude, he’s pushing beyond what could be expected of a person in his position, confounding doctors with his progress.

“The doctors are constantly saying, ‘No, it can’t be. No, it’s too soon for this,’” said Ferris. “It’s very inspiring, and he’s able to do more and more for himself.”

During his visit with Amos, Marrocco tossed a rubber ball to him to show his ability to move his new arms, playing a friendly game of catch while talking about his experience and progress.

“It’s a great motivation just knowing other people are going to help you out if you need it, and you have their support, especially people like the commandant and sergeant major,” said Marrocco. “People where, if you really needed something, they’d move heaven and earth to help you out. It’s very humbling and a great thing to have in your back pocket.”

Imagebonnie amos Imagebrendan marrocco ImageCommandant of the Marine Corps Imagesergeant major of the marine corps Imagetransplant ImageWOUNDED WARRIOR

4 Comments


  • Robert E celentano 74 days ago
    My dad was a left hand amputee from action while serving with the 4th Mar/Div on Roi-Namur and I am sure he is as happy to hear of this as I am and wish you all the luck and a speedy recovery Sgt.
  • Robert E Celentano 74 days ago
    My dad was a left hand amputee from action while serving with the 4th Mar/Div on Roi-Namur and I am sure he is as happy to hear of this as I am and wish you all the luck and a speedy recovery Sgt.
  • Brenda 1 years 126 days ago
    I can't say enough how proud I am of our military! For the commandant and sergeant major to take time out of their busy schedule and not only visit our wounded but to open doors for them that wouldn't have opened otherwise, says volumes for military leaders and how important all our vets are!!! Brendan you are in our hearts and prayers, as all our current active, wounded, and retired service men and women! Thank you for serving our United States so we can continue to be the home of the free because of the brave!
  • Peggy Harper 1 years 128 days ago
    I am so amazed when I hear stories of medical breakthrough's such as this! Please pass my message to Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco. First I want to say THANK YOU for your service in defending our country, and I am so glad to see how well you are coming along! Your "WILL" is very strong...never let anything, or anybody, stop you in whatever direction your life takes you. My life started with being born with a cleft palate and hare lip. In my 20's I had a "tongue-flap" procedure, a first in this country, to close my palate. I continued going to work with my mouth wired shut and a NG tube! Three years later, I had surgery on a 9mm aneurysm in my brain, with a 30% chance of living! Being lucky that my anatomy is strange, my artery had a "split" so they were able to clamp off the extra artery! I was in the hospital for ONE WEEK! I had not had any symptoms, it was found during an arteriogram when doctors were trying diagnose, which took 24 years, my having Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, now called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Our bodies are the most complexed, wonderful piece of art! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. KEEP UP THE FIGHT BECAUSE YOU HAVE A LOT MORE LIVING AND LOVING TO DO!

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