In February, Gary Webb gave his ex-wife. Vivian Corrie, a part of his liver in a life-threatening operation. Corrie had primary biliary cirrhosis, a genetic liver disease that already had claimed the life of her 56-year-old brother in October 2001, so she was seeking a living donor.
"My son was going to do it," says Corrie. "He was a perfect match. But I didn't know…that my ex-husband was being tested at the same time, and then he came to me and said, 'Our son is not doing it.' He said, 'I'm going to do it.' So it kind of took me by surprise.
"I think, for the most part, it's very courageous, what he did. But, at the same time, it was very scary for our children, because it was both parents on the (operating) table."
For his part, Webb was afraid of the prospect of his son, 32-year-old Gary Jr., donating part of his liver.
"My son had been injured in an accident about 11 months prior, and I don't think he was 100 percent healed, and I figured that would just compound the problems he had," Webb explains.
He knew full well that the operation is dangerous, potentially deadly for the donor, and he decided if there was going to be a fatality, he would prefer that it be him instead of his son.
Webb's fiancée, Rita Weaver, is the one who first made the suggestion that the father step in for the son. Both Corrie and Webb also credit Weaver with nursing Webb through his recovery and comforting Webb and Corrie's three adult children during the long 10 hours that both their parents spent on the operating table.
Says Webb, "Rita just loves my children, and she actually knew more about what was going on than I do and had just spoke to a couple of my daughters and brought to my attention that my son was already involved in this program and that I might be a more suitable candidate."
Corrie's reaction, "Well, on both their parts, it's very generous. My ex-husband (is) a very generous man, and I know he'd do anything for our kids… Gary and I have never really been apart. We've always been close because of our children. We just figured that, you know, even though we…have our differences…we just decided that, for our children, that we would stay together, you know, for that part."