MURRAY, Utah — It's the ultimate Mother’s Day gift — a son donated a part of his liver to his mother.
Using 3D technology, surgeons at Intermountain Healthcare completed the first left lobe living liver transplant in Utah, but the historical accomplishment paled in comparison to the touching story of a son who saved his mom.
Gwen Finlayson has been living with autoimmune hepatitis for 27 years and doctors have always told her she needed a transplant. However, at 63 years old with relatively good health, the chances of her getting one from the transplant list were slim, until her son, Brandon Finlayson, came to her and said, "Let me do this for you."
"How do you respond to that? This is my son. It was hard," Gwen Finlayson told KSTU.
"We were seeing it was kind of her only opportunity, the only chance that she'd have," Brandon Finlayson said.
It took some convincing, but Finlayson agreed, especially when she learned Intermountain Healthcare was using 3D technology to practice the surgery ahead of time. Transplant surgeon Manuel Rodriguez performed the surgery.
"It's not the same to see the image of someone in a screen than when you can hold it and turn it and look at the angles you're going to be working on," Rodriguez said.
Three months after the surgery in February, both mom and son are feeling better than ever.
"To see her with energy and to see her back doing the things she used to be able to do, it's really exciting," Brandon Finlayson said.
However, they still disagree on one major detail.
"It's not lost on me that he would risk his life for me. Who does that? Who does that, you know? To me, that's the definition of a hero," Gwen Finlayson said.
"No, no. I think I'm a son," Brandon Finlayson said.
Worried about her deteriorating health, Finlayson used to force herself to live in the present.
"I finally have a healthy liver. That's not to say those 27 years weren't great. I've had a great life but this gives me so much hope, so much hope," she said.
However, thanks to her son's gift, she's able to look forward to the future.