A family’s organ donation story

Health Watch

Gwen Finlayson is alive and healthy, thanks to 3-D technology and an incredible gift from her son.

She was on the liver transplant list. Then, her son, Brandon, offered to donate part of his.

Brandon says, “She needed this, and for the couple months of discomfort, that was well worth it.”

Dr. Manuel Rodriguez-Davalos from the Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Services says, “The reason why a live donation is important to do before the patients get too sick is because you’re not doing a full liver, you’re only doing 40 to 60 percent.”

Gwen is petite, so Dr. Rodriguez took Brandon’s smaller left lobe, which is usually done for adolescents. It’s the first time it’s been done between adults in Utah.

The family and surgeons knew exactly how both livers looked before transplant. the team used 3-D imaging to print models.

The doctor says, “The fact that we’re able to kind of go over step by step. It’s just so much easier than just seeing a cat scan on the screen.”

Brandon says, “Beforehand, we could see her liver, we could see my liver, and we could see exactly how they were going to cut it open.”

Brandon was home in five days; Gwen in nine. Both their livers grew back to functioning size. now, she is looking ahead and thankful every day.

Dr. Rodriguez plans to make 3-D models of Brandon’s and Gwen’s livers in a year, to see how they’ve grown.

Intermountain Transplant Services recently got a grant to create a 3-D printed liver library.

Dr. Rodriguez says models of donor and recipient livers will help educate patients and surgeons in training.

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