Utah Man Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant During Pandemic

May 4, 2020, 8:34 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:28 pm

MURRAY, Utah — A Utah man was given the gift of life by doctors at Intermountain Medical Center after they performed a life-saving liver transplant on him in the midst of the pandemic.

As the coronavirus started to spread across the state in early March, hospitals canceled nonessential surgeries to make room for patients with COVID-19, but some life-saving operations like organ transplants couldn’t wait.

“Sometimes in life, if you don’t take your chances, they pass you by,” said Brad Peterson, who was diagnosed with a rare form of liver disease a year ago.

At that time, he and his wife Lori, had no idea that his best chance for a life-saving transplant would come in the middle of a pandemic.

Peterson needed to act quickly, and his doctors were eager to help.

Peterson is a banker in Logan. He and Lori, truly cherish spending time on their ranch.

“Being on a good horse, alone,” said Peterson, with a chuckle.

Six weeks ago, in the middle of the night in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, they got the call they had been waiting for.

Transplant team coordinators told them they had to get to the hospital in Murray where a liver was available for Brad.

“What was your first thought?” Peterson asked his wife. “Fear,” she answered.

Fortunately, the doctors on the transplant team did not see it that way.

Brad has a rare blood type that complicates a match, and the typical wait for a liver can be 14 months, or longer. They were not really in a position to wait.

“We were both quite surprised, and in a way happy,” said Peterson. “In a way, thrilled, but at the same time, both surprised and concerned.”

They knew it was risky to be in the hospital during the pandemic, but passing on this liver was risky, too.

“His life expectancy wasn’t long without it, so that definitely played into it. I wanted him to live,” said Lori.

“It was getting down to where it became a life and death situation,” said Peterson.

The next day, he got that transplant.

“We made adjustments so that we would always be able to meet needs,” said Dr. Richard Gilroy, Intermountain’s liver transplant medical director.

Transplant teams made critical safety moves before COVID-19 arrived in Utah.

Dr. Gilroy added there is always uncertainty when it comes to transplantation.

“You never know when you’re going to get an organ offer,” he said. “And then, you never know everything about the organ offer that you get.”

Dr. Gilroy said doctors at the hospital have transplanted five livers in the past month, with no expectation of slowing their pace.

In fact, they expect to transplant 70 livers this year compared to 53 last year, regardless of the pandemic.

“Watching him progress has been nothing short of miraculous,” said Lori, who was not able to be by her husband’s side while he was recovering in the hospital for 10 days due to COVID-19 restrictions at the facility.

When she first saw her husband as he left the hospital, she immediately noticed that the yellow coloring from his liver disease was gone from his face. That let her know he was already getting better.

“So joyful to see that the liver was working,” Lori said. “That going through all of this was worth it. It gave him the opportunity to live.”

They plan to head home to Logan later this week.

KSL 5 TV Live


Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

2 days ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result are photographed in New York, April...

Associated Press

More free COVID-19 tests from the government are available for home delivery through the mail

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.

13 days ago

FILE - Doses of the anti-viral drug Paxlovid are displayed in New York, Aug. 1, 2022. The COVID-19 ...

Amanda Seitz, Associated Press

COVID-19 treatments to enter the market with a hefty price tag

The COVID-19 treatments millions of have taken for free from the federal government will enter the private market next week with a hefty price tag.

1 month ago

Toddlers dance during play time at Living Water Child Care and Learning Center as center director J...

Associated Press

Child care programs just lost thousands of federal dollars. Families, providers scramble to cope

After two years of receiving federal subsidies, 220,000 child care programs across the country were cut off from funding Saturday Utah

2 months ago

Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Nobel Assembly, right, announces the winner of the 2023 Nobel Pri...

David Keyton and Mike Corder

Nobel in medicine goes to 2 scientists whose work enabled creation of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19

Two scientists have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries that enabled the development of mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 and could be used in the future to create other shots.

2 months ago

child in doctor's office...

Mike Anderson

Flu, COVID cases expected to rise in Utah

The number of COVID-19 diagnoses continues to stay above what we saw over the summer but now some doctors are starting to see early signs of the flu as well.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah Man Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant During Pandemic