BOSTON — A former Marine sergeant who underwent a double arm transplant said Wednesday that the best part about having arms again is that he can hold his fiancee’s hand and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a chef.

Retired Sgt. John Peck , who lost all four limbs as the result of an explosion of a homemade bomb in Afghanistan in May 2010, underwent 14 hours of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in August. The procedure involved 60 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.

His arms are scarred and move awkwardly, but every day with the new limbs is better, he said at a news conference at the hospital. He is learning to dress himself, brush his teeth and feed himself all over again.

The first time he held fiancee Jessica Paker’s hand after the surgery, he couldn’t even feel it, but it still meant the world.

“That truly is a special gift,” he said, adding later that he can now feel pressure when she squeezes.

Peck, 31, will probably need nine to 12 months of rehabilitation before the nerves are fully functional again, said Dr. Simon Talbot, the lead surgeon.

Peck, originally from Illinois, now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He said he’s wanted to be a chef since he was 12.

“As a result of surgery, I’ll be able to pursue my dreams,” he said.


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