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Reflecting on National Kidney Month

Marco Canton’s daily routine includes getting up early to hit the gym­ five to six times a week and pursuing an associate degree as a registered dietetic technician. He’s very involved with his church and volunteers as an on-air radio personality for the church’s radio station. He’s close to his family and friends, and he loves spending time with them. In short: Marco leads a healthy, fulfilling life, but that wasn’t always the case.

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As a teenager growing up in Costa Rica, Marco learned that he had diabetes. By the time his family moved to the U.S. in 1994, the disease had progressed so significantly that, in fact, Marco was left blind in his left eye.

“I remember going to sleep one night and when I woke up I was in the hospital. I had slipped into a diabetic coma,” says Marco.

As Marco’s health continued to decline, his kidneys shut down. In addition to taking insulin shots, his life depended on dialysis machines removing toxins a healthy kidney would normally clear from the body. Marco was on dialysis three times a week, for three hours each sitting.

In turn, the dialysis wasn’t enough and Marco became gravely ill; he was in desperate need of a kidney and pancreas transplant.

In October of 2008, through the generosity of a deceased donor, a complete stranger, Marco received his lifesaving transplants. His health improved almost immediately, and his life began to move forward again at full speed. For him, there was no going back.

Marco shares his story with the Latin American community in northern Nevada in the hopes individuals will register as donors. He is active with Ministerio Palabra de Vida (Word of Life Ministry) in Reno and has been interviewed about his experience during various radio segments.

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“I have a strong faith, which has allowed me to be here to talk with others about organ and tissue donation. Anyone who registers as a donor needs to know that their decision can possibly change someone’s life. I am a living example of that.”