Son donates portion of liver to dad in need

Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 17:16:30-04

Usually parents are the ones that help their children live well. In this case, a son is giving his father the gift of life. That's because he donated a portion of his liver to his dad.

When a John Barnes went into liver failure, his youngest son Brian, who just finished college, decided to step in and put his life on hold to help his dad.

John said, "Things he had to give up for me... It's hard to put into words. There are no words."

He fights back tears when he thinks about the sacrifice he son made to help him stay alive.

John was suffering from liver failure and was put on a transplant list in December, but his health was quickly deteriorating.

He told his four kids not to worry and that he will wait for a transplant, but Brian, the youngest of four children, didn't listen.

He checked to see if he was a match to be a living donor for his father, against his wishes.

"It felt like there was nothing more important that I can do at that point than get tested and try to become a donor," Brian said.

He was a match.

After months of tests, both father and son came to Henry Ford Hospital for the successful surgery in July.

Brian donated the 60% of his liver to his father.

Dr. Marwan Abouljoud performed transplant surgery.

"And the remaining part of the liver is healthy  and the person is healthy the liver grows back," he said.

It was a 12-hour surgery with a three month recovery.

Both father and son seem to be doing just fine.

Brian said, "The day after surgery. I was laying in bed and he was running circles around me."

Now John will always have a piece on Brian with him and the scars are a happy reminder.

"An important part of my son, right next to my heart," John said.

He will be forever grateful to his son who gave him the gift of life.

He added, "A mix of Euphoria, because I was so sick and what he would have to give up to help me.... All the time..."

The family says they are sharing their touching story to serve as a reminder that organ donation is important.

The doctor says 20% of those on liver transplant list won't survive the wait because there are not enough organs being donated.

If you would like to learn how you can be an organ donor - go to: or