Health Highlights: Jan. 30, 2013

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  • Soldier Says Double-Arm Transplant Gives 'Hope for the Future'
  • New Drug to Treat Rare Cholesterol Disorder Approved by FDA
  • Barbara Walters Released From Hospital
  • Two More Surgeries for Malala
  • First Benefits Awarded From 9/11 Health Fund
  • FDA Issues Warning on Unapproved Flu Product

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Soldier Says Double-Arm Transplant Gives 'Hope for the Future'

A 26-year-old American soldier who recently underwent a double-arm transplant said at a new conference Tuesday that he looks forward to driving and swimming with his new arms.

Brendan Marrocco lost all four limbs in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2009. He had the double-arm transplant last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and said he is happy and amazed to have new arms, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

"It's given me a lot of hope for the future," Marrocco said at the news conference. "I feel like it's given me a second chance." He has prosthetic legs but said that without arms, he felt "kind of lost for a while."

Marrocco was joined at the news conference by the surgeons who performed the operation. Lead surgeon Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee said the procedure "was the most extensive and complicated" transplant surgery ever performed, CBS/AP reported.

Lee said the transplant involved connecting bone, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and other tissue, and noted that he and his team rehearsed the procedure four times on cadavers in the last two years.

The operation was only the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant done in the United States, CBS/AP reported.

Marrocco, who can already twist the wrist in his left arm, checked out of the hospital Tuesday and will begin several months of outpatient therapy. Nerves regrow at about an inch per month, so it will take between several months to over a year for Marrocco to regain most of his normal arm movements, Lee said.


New Drug to Treat Rare Cholesterol Disorder Approved by FDA

A new drug that treats a rare inherited disorder that causes extremely high cholesterol levels and heart attacks by age 30 was approved Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The disease is called homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) and affects only a few hundred people in the U.S. Left untreated, people with HoFH can develop levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol that are about 10 times higher than what is considered desirable, The New York Times reported.

The drug Kynamro (mipomersen) works by inhibiting the action of a gene -- apolipoprotein B -- involved in the formation of particles that carry cholesterol in the blood. Kynamro is injected once a week.

A clinical trial of the drug found that it lowered LDL cholesterol levels by an average of nearly 25 percent. The FDA said the label for Kynamro will carry a boxed warning about potential liver damage. Other side effects include flu-like symptoms and injection-site reactions, The Times reported.

Kynamro was invented by Isis Pharmaceuticals and will be marketed by Sanofi's Genzyme division. Last month, the FDA approved Aegerion Pharmaceuticals' once-a-day pill called Juxtapid for treatment of patients with HoFH.


Barbara Walters Released From Hospital

Barbara Walters is now recovering at home after spending more than a week in hospital after suffering a fall.

The 83-year-old newswoman and talk-show host fell and struck her head at a party on the weekend before President Obama's second inauguration. She was hospitalized in Washington and then moved to a New York hospital late last week, USA Today reported.

On Tuesday, ABC announced that Walters had been released from hospital and returned home. Walters is a host on the network's The View talk show.

On Monday, The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg said that Walters was recovering from chickenpox as well as the cut on her forehead from her fall, USA Today reported.

"You all know that she fell and cut her head 10 days ago, and then was running a temperature, but it turns out it is all the result of a delayed childhood. Barbara has the chickenpox. She'd never had it as a child. So now she's been told to rest, she's not allowed any visitors. And we're telling you, Barbara, no scratching," Goldberg said on the show.