Skip to Content
Mark J. and Mark J., Living-Donor Liver Transplant
Mark J. and Mark J., Living-Donor Liver Transplant

Life Changing Is ... a Lifesaving Gift from Son to Father

Mark J. and Mark J., Living-Donor Liver Transplant

"You really can't put a price on life. So, I would definitely encourage people to look down this path."

Mark suffered a serious back injury in a skiing accident when he was a teenager. He became infected with hepatitis C after receiving a blood transfusion while in the hospital.

Over the years, the hepatitis caused damage to Mark's liver. Various treatment options slowed the damage but didn't stop it. Eventually, it got to the point where he needed a transplant.

More than 11,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a liver transplant. Only about 5,000 deceased-donor organs are available, which makes living-donor liver transplants a lifesaving option. UPMC considers living donor transplants a first-line treatment.

Mark's three sons all went through testing to see if they were a candidate to become a living donor. Two of them were approved — but his oldest son, also named Mark, insisted that he would be the donor.

"There was really no hesitation," Mark says. "It was just, 'Do it.'"

The family is from Boston, and they looked nationwide for the right place to go for the transplant. They eventually landed on UPMC, a national leader in living-donor liver transplants.

"Everyone was really pointing me in one direction, and that was to UPMC," the elder Mark says.

After Mark and Mark met with UPMC's transplant team in the fall of 2021, they learned they qualified for the treatment. They underwent surgery in April 2022.

The elder Mark says he wasn't worried about himself. But he was nervous for his son, who had recently become a father himself.

“I was honored. I was really honored he stepped up," the elder Mark says. "It still chokes me up. I was lucky, and I was honored."

For his part, the younger Mark says he felt a little bit nervous. But he was confident things would go well.

"As corny as this might sound, we'd been through so much the past year that it felt like the world was against us, and now, it's time for the tides to turn," he says. "I kind of felt like this was a big changing moment, and things were going to start heading in the right direction."

The surgery was a success for both father and son. A year after the procedure, they are both healthy and doing what they enjoy. Both have built back their strength since the operation; they often golf together to grow a stronger bond.

The elder Mark spends his time between Boston and Naples, Fla.

“Life's too short, so I can do both — still work and be able to go back and forth," he says. "And I'm going to do it."

The younger Mark says he would recommend living donation to anyone who has the opportunity to do it to save a life.

"You really can't put a price on life," he says. "So, I would definitely encourage people to look down this path."

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means the chance to save lives.

Find UPMC Transplant Services in the Following Regions

Stories like this one have helped UPMC earn local, national, and global honors over the years. See how our commitment to Life Changing Medicine continues to receive recognition.