Son donates part of his liver to his father

A liver transplant from a live donor helps save a dad's life.

"A young healthy donor of his own volition agrees to undergo an operation to have part of his or her liver removed and at that very same day have it transplanted into a recipient," Dr. Robin Kim, M.D. with the University of Utah Healthcare said.

It's a fairly rare operation -- under four percent of all liver transplants in America are performed this way.

But when Jason Clark found out he could possibly save his father's life it was an easy decision.

Jason said, "Well there actually wasn't much hesitation between my wife and I once we decided that we were going to do it."

57-year-old Lynn Clark of Logan contracted Hepatitis C in 2005 from a blood transfusion following a car wreck.

For the last three years, he's had cirrhosis of the liver.

All three of his children wanted to be a donor, but only Jason's blood type matched.

Dr. Robin Kim performed the back to back surgeries on February 16.

It wasn't until the next morning that Jason knew they were successful.

"When he was done, the next day he came walking into my room and I hadn't even tried to move yet, I was still stuck in bed so just seeing him be able to be up and walking around, then I knew we had done an awesome thing," Jason said.

A living donor liver transplant is a major undertaking that takes a lot of resources, trained staff and orchestration, and a game-changer for liver patients.

"The big factor is that we have created an environment where patients who would otherwise not get a liver in time are able to get a life-saving organ much faster than they would by normal means," Jason said.

90-percent of what was removed from the donor will regenerate in two to three months and the transplanted partial liver will regenerate as well.

That's key, because Utah is part of a donor region and areas with larger populations may have more people on waiting lists.

Jason said, "There is a fear, a potential for organs even donated from local donors to go to other parts of our region."

As for the Clarks, they hope to do a lot more outdoor activities like walking and going to the zoo.

They have a Disneyland trip planned for 2017.

Jason's grandfather had health issues, and the two never had a close relationship.

He wanted better for his kids.

"I knew right away that I wanted to give that opportunity for my kids to be able to have their relationship with my dad so that he wasn't just an old guy on the couch but he was someone that they could talk to, that they would learn from and get to know."