Son Donates Part of His Liver to Mom

A man in Utah gave his mother the ultimate in Mother's Day Gifts after he donated a large portion of his liver to her for a life-saving transplant.

"He’s my rock star," Gwen Finlayson said, referring to her son, Brandon.

"No, I’m just spare parts," says Brandon, 37, replied with a grin. 

In 1991, the 63-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, which is when the body's immune system turns against the liver cells. At the time, doctors warned her that her condition would eventually cause her liver to fail and she would need a transplant.

Finlayson got on the national transplant list last year, but it didn't look likely she would get an organ in time.

Her son Brandon got tested for compatibility and learned he was a match and could donate a piece of his liver to his mom. But, because Brandon had five kids of his own to worry about, Gwen didn't want her son to put himself at any risk.

"She pretty much shut us down and said, 'No, it's not a possibility. I don't even want to talk about it,'" Brandon told ABC 17. "It took days to get her to finally even think about the idea. A lot of convincing."

Eventually, Gwen allowed the surgery to proceed, and in February, doctors in Utah were able to transplant the left lobe of Brandon's liver to his mom. It was the first time they had transplanted the left lobe of a living donor's liver. They practiced the surgery using a 3-D printed model of Brandon's liver they obtained through scans.

"Normally we take the right lobe and take about 60 percent of the healthy liver from the donor to give to the recipient," Dr. Rodriguez-Davalos said in a statement about the surgery. "That said, with the use of current 3-D imaging and 3-D printing technology we can perform precision liver surgery and obtain a left lobe graft which gives safer and faster recovery for the donor with equal or improved outcomes for Mom."

Because the human liver has the ability to regenerate, both livers will eventually grow to about 90 percent of its normal size in a few months.

Three months after the surgery, both Mom and son are recovering well and getting back to a normal life. Brandon says he doesn't regret a thing.

“I’d do it again – in a heartbeat,” said Brandon.

“I’ve got a reset button, a huge blessing and opportunity,” said Gwen. “I’ve got lots of dancing to do at weddings and a trip to the Canadian Rockies on a train.”

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