One of the recipients of what is believed to be the first donation of live liver in North America is called the foreigner who saved his life "angel".
Fifty-four-year-old Muhammad Khan of Mississago, Ont, shared his gratitude nearly a year after Peterborough, Ont., 38-year-old Kelly Brian, gave him more than half of the liver. In return, Khan's wife, Hina, donated more than half of the liver to another foreigner.
Officials with a transplant program at the University Health Network say the four simultaneous operations were held on July 9, 2018 and took 12 hours, four operating rooms and 28 employees and surgeons.
This feat was discovered at the General Hospital Toronto on Tuesday morning, when patients and doctors stressed the potential that the rare procedure should save lives.
The transplant program said that South Korea and Hong Kong had exchanged liver, but there were no reports of their being carried out in Europe or North America.
A gift that changes life
"To my donor, I would like to say that I have the deepest respect for you," said Kahn, who was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver in 2017, in a prepared statement before the media event Tuesday.
"I appreciate what you have done from the depths of my heart, I salute you for doing such a huge work, to come and help me."
It was all possible because Bryan, whose blood type is a rare universal 0-negative, allowing her to donate blood to anyone. She says she wants to help a stranger with a gift.
"Although they are not my friends or family members, they are still some other friend, family, loved one and they deserve the gift of a new liver and a new life," says Brian in the same issue.
Hina was not a match for her husband, so she was paired with the medical team with another, compatible recipient. That man chose to stay private.
"It is so important to call out to the world how life is important and important for this gift," said Grant, noting that 50 to 100 people die annually while waiting for a liver transplant in Ontario.
Similar kidney exchanges involving kidneys have been performed for 15 years, but the liver exchange is much rarer and more risky.
"I have the greatest admiration for living donors," Grant said.