Jill and David Bettelley were told that Luke, aged 18 months, had only 48 hours to live because a suitable donor could not be found. Mrs Bettelley, 32, asked surgeons to allow her to donate part of her liver.
The operation, which was successful, has made medical history in Britain - it is the first time surgeons have used a live donor for a transplant patient with acute liver failure and saved someone's life. Other live donor transplants are carried out but they are done with two or three weeks' preparation on people with chronic liver problems, not those who only have hours to live.
"Now we know we can do this sort of operation, we should be able to save 15 to 20 lives a year," said a spokesman for King's College hospital in London, where the operation was carried out five weeks ago. Mother and baby are doing well.
"We expect to keep Luke in hospital for another two or three weeks for observation. We are very pleased with his progress. He is making a good recovery."
Mrs Bettelley, from Worthing, West Sussex, was said to be tired but recovering. "I could have died on the operating table but that didn't even come into it. My only concern was for Luke and what I could do for him," she said.
Adult donors can give up to half of their liver and survive as the liver regenerates itself over time. It is believed that Luke was given one- eighth of his mother's liver.
Mohammed Rela, the consultant surgeon who carried out the operation, said: "In the absence of a suitable donor, Luke would have certainly died. Jill and David have been marvellous throughout and were very brave and positive, which helped us do our job well."
Luke was brought into King's College hospital on 28 February and operated on five days later.Reuse content