Transplant: A Gift for Life
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About the Program
Transplant: A Gift for Life features the human side of advanced medicine. A daughter offers to donate half of her liver to save her father's life; the recipient of a lung transplant reaches out to his deceased donor's family; two mothers nurse their sons through multiple transplants, and only one gets a happy ending.
Told with intimacy and honesty, the film spotlights not only the science behind transplantation, but offers a view into the ethical and moral dilemmas in modern medicine.
At 57 years old, Transplant: A Gift for Life filmmaker Dennis Mahoney passed out walking around a Minneapolis lake. Previously healthy, he learned that he needed a liver transplant. His nephew Mathew Keiser volunteered and in 2008, donated 60% of his liver.
Both men recovered well from surgery, and Mahoney ultimately worked on Transplant: A Gift for Life until his death from cancer, unrelated to his transplant, in February 2012.
In addition to Mahoney’s story, the documentary profiles organ recipients both young and old, and donors consisting of friends, family and complete strangers. Leading surgeons and specialists from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota are also featured, and researchers offer the simple and heartbreaking arithmetic behind the urgent need for donors: each day, 19 people in the United States die waiting for an organ, and every 12 minutes, another American is added to the transplant list.
“There is no other area of medicine where you can take people who are literally at death’s door and completely restore their health,” says John R. Lake, MD, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Liver Transplant Program.
Bob Koehs, recipient of a successful double lung transplant, echoes Dr. Lake’s sentiment and celebrates his donor, saying “now and forever, we'll go walking, talking, singing, laughing, crying, and breathing together. It's her gift for life for me.”