Double arm transplant patient battles pain to chase dream of being a chef

A retired Marine who received a double arm transplant says the pain was so bad he almost called the surgeon to get the operation reversed. John Peck, who lost both his legs and part of his right arm after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, said he was in agony as he woke from the anaesthetic. Speaking for the first time since receiving his new arms in August, he said: “The pain (was) tremendous at first. I believe the anaesthesia was beginning to wear off and I wanted to call Dr (Simon) Talbot to tell him to come and re-amputate my arm.” But the 31-year-old has overcome what he called his “moment of weakness” and is enjoying simple pleasures, such as holding his fiancee’s hand, again.

I’m learning how to transfer out of bed. Every day it’s a learning experience and I love it

John Peck

A team of 12 surgeons, led by Dr Talbot, performed the experimental surgery at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in an operation lasting more than 12 hours. The retired Marine sergeant is now facing 12 months of rehabilitation. He said: “There’s things with prosthetics that I couldn’t do. Like circular door handles. I tried multiple times and I failed multiple times. I hope to be doing that.” He also hopes he can pursue a new dream - becoming a chef. “My dream job since I was 12 was to be a chef and because of my donor’s gift I actually have a fighting chance of doing this,” he said.

I will drive on through the pain. I will never give up. I will remember his selflessness and his gift until the day I die and will not take it for granted

John Peck