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Daughter Saves Mother with Liver Transplant

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Andrea Smardon
/
KUER
Donor Rachel Garcia-Trujillo with her mother Betty Garcia after a successful transplant at Intermountain Medical Center.

A Utah mother is alive today thanks to an unusual donation by her daughter. Betty Garcia was in desperate need of a liver transplant, but she wasn’t sick enough to qualify for a liver from a deceased donor.

“It was horrible, just sleeping all the time, losing muscle, and just wasting away,” Garcia says. When doctors at Intermountain Medical Center suggested that a loved one could be a living donor, her only daughter Rachel Garcia-Trujillo knew she wanted to do it. It’s a complicated procedure that removes 60% of the donor’s liver. Doctors say there is a 1 in 200 chance of the donor dying, and 30 percent of donors have some sort of complication. For that reason, they will only accept liver donations from someone who has a strong emotional bond with the recipient.

Trujillo, a military veteran, says it was the ultimate sacrifice. After the surgery, which took place on Veteran’s Day, she says there was a complete role reversal. 

“She’s just full of energy, and now technically, they said I’m in liver failure,” Trujillo says. “So now, I’m the one always sleeping.” But doctors say Trujillo’s liver should regenerate after just a few weeks. Michael Charlton, medical director for liver transplantation, says Intermountain plans to perform more of these life-saving procedures.

“It’s a remarkably generous state in terms of how people look after each other, and that’s manifest in people like the Garcia’s,” Charlton says. “We think it’s going to be a very successful program in terms of people stepping forward to be considered.”

Intermountain Medical Center is the only program in the region that is performing adult-to-adult living donor liver transplants.

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