Tennessee Navy corpsman saves mother’s life with live liver transplant

Tennessee Navy corpsman saves mother's life with live liver donation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We know veterans and active service members are ready to lay down their lives for others. So, when one Tennessee Navy corpsman’s mother needed a new liver, he stepped in.

The Murfeesboro family traveled to Memphis for a transplant. Early this year when Mary Arthur was told she has liver failure she became a number on the list of people who need a liver transplant. That list is growing at the James D. Eason Transplant Institute at Methodist University in partnership with the University of Tennessee Health Sciences in Memphis.

“We have over 100 patients on our liver transplant waiting list,” said Dr. James Eason, director of the Transplant Institute. “We know over a year 10 percent of those patients will die.”

Mary’s likelihood of receiving a liver from a deceased donor was small since the Mid-South donor area only gets about 50 deceased donors a year. Then, she was told about live liver donors where someone can give part of their liver to a transplant patient.

Her doctor recommended family.

“I didn’t want (my family) to do it,” Mary said. “I just told them I’d wait for a deceased liver. I didn’t want to hurt my kids just so I could feel better.”

No wasn't an option for her son Tyler.

“It's every little boy’s dream to save his mama,” Tyler said.

Tyler, a Navy corpsman, took a leave, and came to Memphis to see if he’d be a match for his mom.

The James D. Eason Transplant Institute at Methodist University in partnership with the University of Tennessee Health Sciences is the only live liver transplant hospital in the Mid-South, and the largest in the Southeast. Dr. Eason, along with Dr. Daniel Maluf and Dr. Luis Campos perform about one live liver transplant a week.

Tyler was a match, and the transplant was done this month.

“I asked the Lord to give me a man to love me unconditionally and without judgement, and He gave me a son,” Mary said.

Eason says 93 percent of live liver recipients recover, and the donors are usually out of the hospital in five days. Both livers will grow back to regular size.

All it takes is someone, like Tyler, willing to give the gift of life.

“Her son, an active duty navy serviceman, has already shown he’s willing to serve others comes forth to save his mom’s life,” Eason said.

While many live liver donors are family members, they can be anyone as long as they get a good bill of health and are the same blood type as the recipient. To explore becoming a live liver donor you can call Lakeicha Gunter at Methodist University Hospital at (901) 478-2804.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.