Richard Mangino got the two hands last week in a 12-hour transplant procedure by a team of more than 40 doctors, nurses and other medical staff, the hospital said.
Mangino said he's adjusting to the new hands gradually and said now he won't have to "perform a miracle" every day to do simple things like make coffee and get dressed.
Speaking at a news conference seated in a wheel chair with his arms and hands propped on stack of pillows, Mangino said he prayed for the ability to touch his grandsons' faces, stroke their hair and teach them to throw a ball
Mangino, from Revere, Massachusetts, lost his arms below the elbows and legs below the knees after contracting sepsis, a bloodstream infection, in 2002.
The complicated surgery included transplanting skin, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones and blood vessels on both forearms and hands, the hospital said.
Doctors said Mangino independently moved fingers just days after surgery and called the results a "resounding success."
His recovery will take many months and doctors expect him to regain sense of touch in six to nine months with ongoing therapy to help him learn to grasp and pick things up.
The double-hand transplant is the second performed by Brigham and Women's, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
In May, a team performed a full face transplant and its first double-hand transplant on Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009.
The hospital said the hand transplant was successful, but the hands did not thrive after complications from pneumonia and were removed.
There are a few other programs around the country that perform hand transplants.
The first hand transplant was performed in France in 1998, and the first in the United States was completed a year later.
Doctors said about a dozen hand transplants have been done in the U.S. and believe just four of those have been bilateral.