In 1991, the 63-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, which is caused by the body's immune system turning against the liver cells.
There is no greater love than a mom's for most of us and we would literally move mountains to make sure they're happy and healthy. This son is no exception. According to KTVX, a woman from Utah, named Gwen Finlayson, is now hepatitis free, thanks to her son. Gwen had to undergo a life-saving transplant in which she received a piece of her son's liver. In 1991, the 63-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, which is caused by the body's immune system turning against the liver cells. Doctors reportedly warned her back then that she would need to undergo a transplant surgery within two years if she wanted to survive.
3D printer to new liver! Brandon Finlayson has given part of his liver to his mom, Gwen...and it was all done with the help of a 3D printer for the first time. pic.twitter.com/auz7NZKOUq— Kelli Pierce (@KelliReports) May 9, 2019
Somehow, she managed to stretch the two-year time frame to nearly two decades."I would go to the hospital and stay. I wasn't getting over things," she said. "There were a lot of indications that this was going south in a hurry." Last year, Gwen was put on the national transplant list, but there seemed to be little to no chance of her finding the perfect match. Soon after, they found that one of her children, son Brandon, was a perfect match for her.
Brandon even volunteered to be a donor, but Gwen refused, saying she did not want to put his life in danger just to save hers since Brandon had five children 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, 37, said. It wasn't easy to get her to agree, but it eventually worked out. "It took days to get her to finally even think about the idea. A lot of convincing."
The surgery happened in February and Gwen's been healthy ever since. "I feel like we are gaining ground every day. Starting to hope and dream and thinking about the future," said Gwen. Her surgery was also the first of many new things. This was the first time that doctors in Utah transplanted the left lobe of a living donor's liver. They used scans of Brandon's liver to make a 3-D printed model, so they could plan and practice the delicate procedure. It was performed by the Intermountain Healthcare Transplant team.
"Normally we take the right lobe and take about 60 percent of the healthy liver from the donor to give to the recipient," said Dr. Manuel Rodriguez-Davalos in a statement. "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."
The liver is the only organ in the body that has the power to regenerate itself. Doctors say that both Gwen and Brandon's livers will regenerate and grow back to nearly 90 percent of their normal size within months. It's been three months since the surgery and both mom and son are recovering well. If need be, would Brandon do it all over again? “I’d do it again – in a heartbeat,” said Brandon.
Gwen claims she's never been healthier. “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.” She can now look forward to the future, instead of living in constant fear, not knowing how her life's going to wind up. "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."
She also added she's now walking five miles a day. "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," she 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." Brandon said he hopes he's off the hook from giving Gwen a nice mother's day gift for at least a few years.