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Mother, son OK after liver transplant

Mark and Dorothy Linthicum are recovering after surgery to transplant part of his liver into her
Mark and Dorothy Linthicum are recovering after surgery to transplant part of his liver into her  

(CNN) -- After more than 13 hours of grueling surgery, a mother and son who now share an uncommon bond are recovering well in Georgetown University Hospital.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mark Linthicum is listed in good condition after donating part of his liver to his mother Dorothy in a marathon dual operation Tuesday. Dorothy Linthicum, 55, is listed in fair condition.

Physicians removed about 60 percent of the younger Linthicum's liver to place in his mother, whose bout with hepatitis C destroyed her liver. Living liver donors typically sacrifice half to three-quarters of their liver, which can regenerate, for the transplant.

The procedure, as explained by Dr. Amy Lu of the Georgetown University Hospital before the operation began, sounded simple, if laborious.

Family undergoes living liver transplant  
Learn more about the Linthicum family
Find out more about living liver transplants

"We take out her whole liver, her whole damaged liver, and then we put in a portion of his liver," she said.

Surgeons began operating on Mark Linthicum about 7:30 a.m. EDT and finished removing the section of his liver at 6 p.m. After thoroughly cleaning and preparing the organ, they began the transplant just before 7 p.m. and finished that procedure around midnight.

Over the coming days, doctors will carefully monitor both Linthicums for signs of complications from the surgery. If all goes well, the son should be released from the hospital in about a week, though his activities will be restricted for several more weeks while he continues to heal. His mother can expect to spend several weeks in the hospital recovering.

The operation was a timely one for the elder Linthicum. Lu estimated that Dorothy Linthicum, with 80 percent of her liver dead, had about one year to live without a transplant.

Waiting lists for cadaver-donated livers can be so long that patients can die waiting for the organ, officials say. More than 18,000 patients in the United States are currently waiting for a liver transplant.

Before the procedure, Dorothy Linthicum said her son has always been a "good kid" and she's blessed to have such a loyal child.

“It's very special. He's giving me a chance to live longer," she said. "It was something that he just decided to do on his own."

It was a simple choice, her son said. “Anything for my mother," he said. "That's the way I've always been.”

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