LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who received a life-saving liver transplant expressed his gratitude Thursday to a colleague, who donated part of his own liver for the surgery.

“I never thought I would have a brother at age 40. (It’s) a miracle,” Deputy Jorge Castro said at a news conference at Keck Hospital of the University of Southern California.

Castro was seated at a table with Deputy Javier Tiscareno, who donated part of his liver to his fellow deputy.

The operation was performed June 4 at the medical facility, where surgeons removed 60 percent of Tiscareno’s liver and implanted it in Castro. Both liver sections are expected to grow back to normal size, and both men could return to work and other normal activities within about two months, officials said.

Castro, a 14-year department veteran assigned to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, had first described his need for a liver transplant to Tiscareno, an 18-year department veteran, while they worked out at a gym.

Castro had thought he was facing death because he couldn’t find a donated liver. Back in January 2014, doctors had told him they would place him on a waiting list, but they also warned it was difficult to find a donor and no one in his own family was a match.

If he didn’t find a liver for implantation, he could be dead within a year, the doctors said.

Soon afterward, Castro began talking to Tiscareno while at the gym. When asked how he was doing, Castro tried to say he was fine, but Tiscareno could tell something was wrong.

The treatments weren’t working, and he was getting worse, Castro said. He ended up confiding in Tiscareno, who told Castro he was willing to see if he might be a match.

“He’s the biggest jokester and he told me, ‘let’s do it this Saturday,’ and I told him, ‘you know what, I’m not fooling around, this is serious,'” Castro said. ‘And that’s when he stopped his treadmill and said, ‘I’m not fooling around either.’

The Tiscareno and Castro families became close as the surgery approached. Their wives, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida, “have become very close and Castro realizes he owes Tiscareno his life.”

“I’m not going to your funeral knowing that I could have helped,” Tiscareno told Castro at a news conference before last week’s surgery.

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