Once a year, we take time to celebrate all of the amazing mothers in the world who’ve sacrificed so much for us. Though no gift ever seems quite good enough for the woman who gave us life, one son in Utah has pretty much won Mother’s Day after donating a portion of his liver to save his mom’s life.
In 1991, Gwen Finlayson was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, a disease which causes the body’s immune system to turn against its liver cells.
The 63-year-old mother of four was told that she would require a liver transplant within the next few years.
However, Gwen was able to get by without a transplant for more than two decades. It wasn’t until last year that she finally became listed on the national transplant list.
“I would go to the hospital and stay. I wasn’t getting over things,” Gwen told CNN affiliate KTVX. “There were a lot of indications that this was going south in a hurry.”
Unfortunately, the odds of 63-year-old Gwen receiving a new liver were slim.
Her son, Brandon discovered he was a blood match and volunteered to be his mother’s donor, but Gwen was hesitant.
Brandon is also a parent and has five kids of his own.
“She pretty much shut us down and said, ‘No, it’s not a possibility. I don’t even want to talk about it,’ ” Brandon said. “It took days to get her to finally even think about the idea. A lot of convincing.”
In February, the operation finally took place.
It was the first time doctors in Utah had transplanted the left lobe of a living donor’s liver. 3-D printed models of Brandon’s liver were used as practice materials for the operation.
The surgery was successful and doctors at Intermountain Medical Center, in Murray, Utah expect both Brandon and his mother to make a full recovery.
Their livers should grow to about 90 percent of normal size within months.
Gwen says she’s recovering quickly and feels more energetic than she has in years.
“I look toward the future with hope instead of, ‘How sick am I going to be then,’ ” she said. “I look forward with joy and optimism and try to figure out what are we going to do next.”
And she couldn’t be more grateful to her son Brandon.
“I’m not sure I have the words to describe how I feel about my son. I am grateful that he is the kind of man who would do something like that,” Gwen said. “That he would risk his life for another human being — didn’t have to be his mother — it would have been anybody. To me, that is the definition of a hero.”