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A miraculous story

Perhaps it’s human nature that we let the ills and misfortunes of the world grab so much of our attention.

But there are also many events taking place that offer up a much more positive side of life, ones that provide plenty of hope.

Brendan Marrocco is such a story.

Four years ago, while returning to his Army base in Iraq after a night mission, Marrocco’s vehicle was attacked and an explosive projectile ripped through door where the young man from Staten Island, N.Y., was sitting. It left one soldier dead and Marrocco and another soldier wounded.

Actually, the word “wounded” doesn’t really describe the kind of injuries Marrocco sustained. The soldier suffered a severed left carotid artery; broken nose, left eye socket and facial bones; loss of eight teeth; shrapnel to the left eye and face; severe lacerations to the face; burns to the neck and face ...

So severe were his arms and legs injured that they had to be removed, leaving Marrocco a quadruple amputee.

That Marrocco didn’t bleed to death or die from his injuries is a testament to a number of factors, including the young man’s will to live and also the training of the unit medic and Marrocco’s comrades, as well to the quality of the medical care provided at the various stops on the way back to the United States.

It’s an amazing story of what modern medicine is cable of doing. Said his father, “He was the first quad amputee to survive. Since then there have been four others.

But Marrocco’s story doesn’t end there.

In December, he spent 13 hours on the operating table as a team of doctors at Johns Hopkins performed a double-arm transplant. To help reduce the chance of having his body reject his new limbs, he also received bone marrow from the same donor. Although the recipients of such transplants don’t usually have complete use of their replaced limbs, they are able to learn to do such things as tie their own shoes — or use chopsticks.

As important as the physical benefits are, there are the psychological ones as well.

“I think it also has additional advantage for the patient to be restored whole,” W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the hospital, who headed the surgical team, said in a Washington Post story. “Once they’re transplanted, they regard the arm as theirs. And I think they’re more comfortable going out on social occasions, as opposed to wearing a prosthetic ... We’re improving the quality of life.”

“It’s given me a lot of hope for the future,” agreed Marrocco this week. “I feel like I’m getting a second chance.”

It’s an incredible story.

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