He lost both legs above the knee, his left arm below the elbow and his right arm above the elbow when a military vehicle he was driving was struck by a powerful makeshift bomb on Easter in 2009.
A determined, soft-spoken young man who has endured numerous surgeries, return trips to the hospital and setbacks, he had been waiting for the transplants for years.
He got his wish Dec. 18 in a complex, multi-hour operation in which bundles of his muscle, bone, blood vessels, skin and nerves were joined — at times under a microscope — with those of a deceased donor.
“He’s doing well,” Marrocco’s father, Alex, said Monday. “Doing well. It’s been a little over a month now.”
Marrocco is the first service member to receive a double arm transplant, and the hospital said he is one of only seven people in the United States who have undergone successful double arm transplants.
Later, in a new anti-rejection procedure, he received an infusion of bone marrow derived from vertebrae taken from the donor’s lower spine.
The infusion allows doctors to reduce the number of powerful anti-rejection drugs they use from three to one. That is beneficial because the anti-rejection drugs can have harmful side effects, possibly leading to infection, organ damage or cancer.
The surgery was done by a special team of transplant experts headed by W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the hospital.
It was the first limb transplant by his newly established group at Hopkins, the hospital says.
Lee said results in such cases have been good, although transplanted arms are never going to have 100 percent of the function of the limbs they replace. But he said patients have learned to tie shoes, use chopsticks and put their hair in ponytails.
The hospital said it would provide details of the operation at a news briefing Tuesday.
In an interview, Lee said there have been about 80 arms transplanted in about 60 patients so far around the world.
His team, which until two years ago was based at the University of Pittsburgh, has transplanted 10 arms in six patients, which is about half the U.S. cases, he said.
There are hundreds of military amputees around the country — including four others who have lost four limbs and others who have lost three or two.
Many, like Marrocco, have been treated at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
Marrocco was at the old Walter Reed for several years, and two other quadruple amputees are recovering at the new site.
Most such patients have been fitted with — and mastered — sophisticated mechanical prostheses. But Lee said in a recent interview that research has suggested younger amputees don’t always use them.