Living liver donation

Becoming a living liver donor helps Alex lead a healthier life

Alex Potratz standing against a brick wall, wearing a rusty red jacket
Alex Potratz donated part of his liver to his mother

Alex Potratz is not the kind of guy who becomes agitated very easily.

So, when he saw that his mother Margaret was becoming more and more ill with cirrhosis and would eventually need a new liver, he was very calm about what he felt needed to happen: He wanted to donate part of his liver to her.

“I had heard that you could be a living liver donor, and I asked my mom about it,” he said. “She told me that a living donor was preferable to a deceased donor, because she would have to become very sick before she would qualify to be on the deceased donor wait list.”

Alex underwent extensive testing at UW Health in Madison, Wis., to see if he would qualify to be a living liver donor. Along with be medically qualified to donate, UW Health Transplant Program social workers also worked with Alex to determine if he was emotionally and mentally ready, and whether he had a good support system in place. Just two weeks after he passed the tests with flying colors, he underwent surgery to donate part of his liver to his mother.

After a hospital stay, Alex returned home to rest, where his girlfriend stayed for a week to help him recover. Six weeks after the surgery, he returned to his job as a software development engineer.

“It worked out very well in my case,” he said. “It really helped out my mother.”

In fact, Alex considers himself healthier now than he was even before the surgery. Because he wanted to be in top shape for the operation, he began working out and eating better, and he lost 15 pounds. Now, he does lots of running, biking and light weightlifting.

“I lead a very healthy lifestyle now,” he said.