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Donation Heart Ribbon

Mother Saves Son’s Life By Donating Part Of Her Liver

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Aired 11/24/09

This Thanksgiving will be extra special for one San Diego family. A 14-month-old boy is alive and well, thanks to a liver donated by his mother.

— This Thanksgiving will be extra special for one San Diego family. A 14-month-old boy is alive and well, thanks to a liver donated by his mother.

In July, little Luke Tanner was dying. He was born without a crucial enzyme in his liver, and the organ began to fail. He was placed on a waiting list for a donated liver.

None was found, and time was running short.

As it turned out, Luke's mother was a match. So surgeons decided to take part of her liver and transplant it into Luke.

Transplant surgeon Ajai Khanna says it's a complicated procedure.

"It's a risky operation, because it involves general anesthetic," Dr. Khanna points out. "It also involves cutting on the liver, and the liver is a very bloody organ."

Mother and son had to be operated on simultaneously.

The procedures lasted eleven hours. Luke's mother, Leah Kent, says she'll never forget what happened when she came to.

"After I came out from under the anesthetic, which was a whole day, and I was told he was doing well and his statistics looked good, I just breathed a sigh of relief," recalls Kent. "It's like holding your breath for months."

Now Luke is a bubbly 14-month old. Kent says she and her baby are doing fine.

"It's been suggested that we get matching tattoos to disguise the scars, but, I think we'll just keep them the way they are," Kent says. "They're beautiful to us. Right baby? Oh, yeah."

Doctors predict Luke should have no problem living to a ripe old age.

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