Ex-Marine Receives Double Arm Transplant at Brigham and Women’s

It's one of the only double arm transplants in the hospital's history.

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Photo by Alex Lau

John Peck has yearned to be a chef since he was 12 years old. Now, thanks to an extraordinary gift, he’s one step closer to his goal.

Six years ago, Peck lost both of his arms and legs in an explosion in Afghanistan. In August, the retired Marine sergeant’s life changed when he received two new arms from a donor who had died just 36 hours earlier.

“As a result of this surgery, I’ll be able to pursue my dreams,” Peck said during a press conference Wednesday.

A team of 12 Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) doctors performed the procedure, one of only a few double arm transplants in BWH’s history, this past summer. The hospital has also made headlines for its face and hand transplants, and is working toward leg transplants—the procedure that originally brought Peck to the hospital for evaluation.

Prior to the operation, Peck had been living with prosthetic arms. His new limbs, he says, will allow him to feel his fiancée’s hand in his again. They’ll also require him to wear oven mitts in the kitchen—before, he laughed, he couldn’t feel any temperature.

During the press conference, Peck vacillated between emotional and jovial, joking that, “I called [BWH], I left them voicemails…[I said,] ‘I got blown up, blah blah blah.'” The ex-Marine also requested that the seat beside him remain empty to honor his anonymous donor and his family.

“Your loved one’s death will not be forgotten,” he said to the donor’s family. “I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die, and I will not take it for granted.”

Peck is currently in post-operative care at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, but he said he’d like to go to culinary school, travel to Europe, and eventually win the Next Food Network Star.