CAMP HILL, Pa. — It’s not unusual for a son or daughter-in-law to want to help their in-laws. One Cumberland County man stepped up by giving a part of his liver to his father-in-law.
At the Rosenstine family home, the pictures paint their own story.
"We've always been a very close family,” Mike Crotty said. “We do a lot of events together, every holiday. We get along great we see each other a lot during the week so we're very close. Very close family."
For Crotty, it's his second family. Though it's never felt that way for the past 18 years.
"He's always treated me like a son, and I've always thought of him as a father, so it was just natural,” Crotty said.
"Him" being Crotty’s father in law, Michael Rosenstein. The two coincidentally share the same name. And today, they share something else.
"It's just a miraculous story that I'm proud to be a part of and proud to be able to be here to talk about,” Rosenstein said.
Two and a half years ago, Rosenstine was diagnosed with a non-alcoholic form of cirrhosis. It eventually turned into liver cancer. There was only one option: a new one.
"I could tell that he was struggling after the diagnosis, and he was suffering probably more mentally than physically,” Crotty said. “He hid it very well but I could tell it was affecting him, which affected me."
Rosenstein was a candidate for the wait list, but that could mean another year to a year and a half before finding a donor. So his son-in-law stepped up.
"The docs were very clear that there were risks,” Rosenstein said. “And Mike was willing to undertake those in order to save my life.”
Turns out living donor transplants are a thing. Something the family figured out through research of their own. And it's not tough to become a match. The main qualification is just being healthy, according to the doctor who performed their surgery.
"The incidents of complications and outcomes are actually slightly better than what they are with a deceased donor transplant,” Dr. Abhi Humar, Clinical Director of Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC in Pittsburgh, said. “And the reason being that generally these recipients are also slightly healthier going into the transplant. We have the ability to do the transplant at a sooner time point in their disease rather than having them wait for a long period of time on a waiting list.”
Fast forward four months. Both men are healthy. Rosenstein’s liver has fully redeveloped. Crotty’s liver has fully regenerated.
“Whatever temporary discomfort or pain I had was well worth the results this surgery,” Crotty said. “A lot of deep emotions come up and you understand how much you really care about each other.”
A blessing for the two Michaels who not only share the same name, but now the same liver.
The family plans on celebrating with a trip to Alaska on the one year anniversary of the surgery.