According to a story from Patch, Mother’s Day 2019 was an exceptionally special one for Gwen Finlayson who received a gift from her son Brandon that will give her a new lease on life: a piece of his liver. Gwen has been living with the rare disease autoimmune hepatitis for decades and knew that she would eventually need a transplant. She never anticipated that it would come from her own son, however.
About Autoimmune Hepatitis
Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare disease of the liver in which the body’s own immune system begins to mistakenly attack cells of the liver, triggering an inflammatory response. What causes this process to begin is unclear, but liver cells present with MHC class II receptors in the disease, which could be the result of a genetic abnormality or prior liver infection. These receptors cause the response from the immune system. Symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis include abdominal pain, fatigue, jaundice, joint pain, liver failure, weight loss, fever, and nausea. The treatment of the disease typically involves the use of immunosuppressants, such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy agents. Most patients can eventually achieve remission from their symptoms, but they almost always relapse. It is most common among people of middle age (40-50) with about 50,000 cases in the US. This disease can negatively affect life expectancy. To learn more about autoimmune hepatitis, click here.
Live Donor Liver Transplants
Because of the liver’s remarkable ability to regenerate missing tissue, a successful liver transplant can be conducted with just a portion of liver from a living donor. Transplants from living donors have become more common in recent years because of the great demand for livers for transplant. Most surgeons prefer donated livers from a dead donor, however.
Gwen’s transplant was the very first live donor, left lobe liver transplant conducted in the state of Utah. A left lobe surgery is perceived as less risky for the donor because it only takes 40 percent of the organ, but right lobe transplants are more common because of the placement of blood vessels. Brandon’s liver has regenerated quickly and is already 80 percent of its pre-surgery size.
Brandon’s generosity is a great example of the bond between mother and son.