For two years, retired Marine Corps. Sgt. John Peck kept a packed black suitcase in his closet. He had no idea when he might get summoned to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for an urgent—and incredibly complex—emergency surgery.

This past August, the call came. A man was dying. And Peck would be the recipient of both his arms.

In a story detailed in The Washington Post, Peck is now learning to cope with what appears to be only the second double-arm transplant on a quadruple amputee. A veteran of the Iraq War, Peck encountered an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in 2010 that took all four of his limbs. In 2014, he discovered he might be a candidate for the procedure. After two years idling on a waiting list and 14 hours of surgery, he became the recipient of two flesh-and-blood arms that are intended to replace his prosthetic devices.

While doctors have cautioned him the healing process will be slow, Peck told reporters in Boston on Wednesday that he can already lift his arms and has faint sensations in both. Physicians expect that Peck will have enough command of the limbs within the next nine to 12 months to perform complex tasks like cooking.

Good news, since Peck’s goal is to become a chef. But at the press conference, he was more concerned with acknowledging the unidentified donor who had given him a new lease on life. “Your loved one’s death will not be for nothing,” he said. “Every day that I look down at our new arms, I will drive on . . . and I will never give up. I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die.”

[h/t NPR]

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