A military veteran receives second chance at his dreams

A military veteran receives second chance at his dreams

This information was originally featured in BWH Bulletin.

While on a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, now-retired Marine Sgt. John Peck’s life changed in an instant when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), triggering an explosion. He lost both legs and both arms. In August 2014, Peck received two new arms at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

John Peck is the fourth patient to receive a double bilateral arm transplant at BWH, following Will Lautzenheiser, who received his arm transplants in October, 2014.

Before receiving a transplant, there is a rigorous evaluation process. Patients need to be physically, emotionally and psychologically stable to be considered for the surgery. Dr. Talbot, who performs the surgery, shared that John Peck’s military experience made him “uniquely qualified, both physically and emotionally, to receive the transplants.”

After surgery comes recovery. Developing the strength and dexterity in the arms is extremely hard work. Peck is relearning how to perform basic tasks with his hands—picking things up, eating, brushing his teeth, getting in and out of a wheelchair and, perhaps most important to him, holding the hand of his fiancée, Jessica Paker. He dreams of someday becoming a professional chef, and because of his new arms, he once again has that chance.

Peck gave special thanks to his anonymous donor and the donor’s family for making the transplant possible.

“Every day when I look down at my new arms, I will drive on through the pain and I will never give up,” Peck said. “I will remember my donor’s selflessness until the day I die. I want the family to know that I appreciate their bravery and courage… I assure them that I will not let this gift go to waste.”

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