A retired US army sergeant who underwent a double arm transplant after losing both arms and both legs in Iraq has been discharged from the hospital, saying he was anxious to get back to an active life.

"I feel like I'm getting a second chance to start over"

- Brendan Marrocco, US soldier

Brendan Marrocco, 26, of New York, had the successful double arm transplant surgery six weeks ago at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

"I feel like I'm getting a second chance to start over," Marrocco said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"I'm just looking forward to everything I would have wanted to do over the last four years."

A roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2009 cost him all four limbs.

"I hated having no arms," Marrocco said. "I was alright with having no legs."

Rare surgery

A double arm transplant surgery is rare, and doctors said this was the first such successful procedure to be conducted at Johns Hopkins.

Officials have said Marrocco is the first US soldier in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to survive losing all four limbs.

Dr WP Andrew Lee, the surgeon who headed the transplant team, said although the surgery was successful, it will be a few years before Marrocco's nerves regenerate and he regains significant use of his arms.

"The progress will be slow, but the outcome will be rewarding," Lee said.

The rare surgery took 13 hours and involved 16 doctors who volunteered from plastic surgery, orthopedics and other disciplines, the hospital said.

It was largely funded by the US Department of Defence, with the remainder of the cost contributed by the hospital, according to Lee.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies