To look at him, people would never know that Marcus Perry had undergone a kidney transplant. The 13-year-old plays with his 2-year-old brother, Malcolm, like any other child.
But, Marcus isn't like any other child. When he was 2, Marcus was diagnosed with kidney malfunction, or nephrotic syndrome.
"The end result of that was kidney failure," said Hubert Perry, Marcus' father. "We knew he would need a kidney transplant, but he hung in there until he was 10."
While those years were marked with hospital stays, some lasting as long as several months, Marcus put up a brave fight.
"I just, pretty much, didn't care about the surgeries," said Marcus, a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School. "I really didn't care what they were going to do."
"He was really a trouper through the whole thing," said his mother, Stephanie Perry. "I stopped counting when he had 70 or 80 surgeries."
The family knew that by the time Marcus was 8 or 10, they would know the direction his condition would take, but they hoped he would outgrow it. Instead, Marcus went into full renal failure.
"He lost nearly 40 pounds and was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Medical College of Georgia for many months because of nausea and vomiting," said Mrs. Perry. "We had dealt with the disease, which was bad enough, but we were now dealing with renal failure."
According to Mrs. Perry, when an organ dies, it is usually left in the body. However, Marcus' kidneys were causing him to become violently ill, which prompted doctors to remove them, leaving him waiting to recover from that surgery before he could undergo a transplant.
"We started with family first," said Mr. Perry. "I was checked first and then my sister and it ended there."
Edwina Perry of Martinez, had always been close to Marcus and would do anything to help him.
"More than anything, I did it for the love for my brother and his child," she said. "I thought from day one that if (Hubert) couldn't do it, I would. I just jumped in head first.
"I just loved him from day one and it wouldn't have been right not to do it," she added. "In our family, we look out for each other. There's just no doubt."
Today, Marcus is recovering from the transplant he had more than two years ago. He goes to an outpatient clinic monthly for blood work and still takes blood-pressure medication. Despite the anti-rejection medications he'll have to take for the rest of his life, he insists he is like everyone else.
Marcus will travel to Washington in March as the lone Georgia ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network to participate in a three-day media blitz to promote the work of children's hospitals. He will then head to Orlando, Fla., to participate in media events there, as well as the live Children's Miracle Network Celebration Concert for Kids.
Asked why he likes participating in such events, Marcus replied, "It's fun because I get to help other people. I just like it."
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