When his son's skin started turning yellow, a sign that his liver was failing, Paul Anders decided to give a little of himself.
Today, father and son will undergo surgery together at UCLA Medical Center in which 9-year-old Paul Jr. will receive a piece of his father's liver as a transplant. The procedure, known as an orthotopic liver transplant, will take about 10 hours and involves as much risk as a regular liver transplant.
Paul Anders, 41, a pressroom employee of The Times Valley Edition, said he decided on the surgery after his son had been on a liver transplant waiting list for a month. Then, medical tests showed the two were compatible for the procedure.
"They're going to take about a pound of my liver and put it in his body where it will live and grow and become a part of him," said Anders.
The transplant is the second for his son, who attends Desert Rose Elementary School in Palmdale. Born with a liver disease known as biliary atresia, Paul needed a new liver at only 6 months old. Last month, tests showed that his liver was showing scars, a symptom of chronic rejection.
"Doctors don't know the reason, they just know that his liver is not working," said Anders.
Dr. Blythe Skeen, an anesthesiologist, said it should take about a month for the father's liver to regenerate to its normal weight--about 3.5 pounds. Recovery for both father and son should take from four to six weeks.
The surgery has been hard on Anders and his wife, Carrie, both emotionally and financially. Medical bills are eating at the family, which also includes Paul's two siblings, Brittany, 7, and Brandon, 5. Concerned friends at Desert Rose PTA set up a trust fund for the fourth-grader and his family at Antelope Valley Bank.
But that was the furthest thing from Anders' mind as he and his son prepared for the surgery.
"My son is scared to death, but he's looking forward to it," said Anders.
"He's just so tired of being sick."