Suburban pastor’s selfless gift helps save life of mother of three

PARK RIDGE, Ill. — A suburban pastor was honored Monday at a city council meeting for his selfless and heroic actions that saved a member of the community.

Matt Hoffman serves as police Chaplin in Park Ridge and is pastor at St. Andrews Lutheran Church and School.

In April, Hoffman donated a portion of his liver to save Ellen Totten, a mother of three and a member of the St Andrews community.

“Back in October, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer, cancer of the bile duct,” Totten said. “This was three weeks after giving birth to my youngest. … Because of the timing of things, I needed a living donor liver transplant to save my life.

Hoffman heard about Totten’s dire prognosis on Facebook. Knowing they were the same blood type, he called to Northwestern Hospital asking how he could help.

“She had two other people step up forward,” he said. “The first two they have to match up exactly right and they didn’t. I did. … It really felt like the right thing and not something I would have considered doing, but it felt like the right thing to do. And I believe that was God giving me the green light.”

Hoffman’s wife gave the okay and the day-long life-saving surgery happened on April 17, Holy Week in the Christian faith.

Totten was also on hand for Monday’s ceremony.

“Matt, I’m so grateful that it was God’s plan for you to match,” she said. “You’re family is our family. Thank you so much.”

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