A life restored

Paul Herridge
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Kidney/pancreas transplant patient sings praises of organ donation

Craig Marshall feels as if he has been given a new lease on life. For the past five years, the 39-year-old Garnish resident has carried a suitcase “packed and in the van,” patiently waiting for a call from a transplant coordinator.

Garnish resident Craig Marshall, 39, underwent a successful kidney/pancreas transplant surgery this past September in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Photo Submitted

BY PAUL HERRIDGE

The Southern Gazette

Craig Marshall feels as if he has been given a new lease on life.

For the past five years, the 39-year-old Garnish resident has carried a suitcase “packed and in the van,” patiently waiting for a call from a transplant coordinator.

It finally came early the morning of Sept. 8.

Ironically, Mr. Marshall was at a popular vacation resort on the Burin Peninsula with his family at the time, and it just happened to be an occasion he decided to leave the luggage at home for once.

“We went for the weekend. I had the young fella’s jeep in the back of the van, so I laid the suitcases in the porch and that was the night I got the call.

“They said it’d comes when you least expect it, and they were right.”

Mr. Marshall, a son of Byron and Pauline Marshall, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 13 and has taken an insulin injection for the past 26 years.

The father of three was eventually placed on home dialysis back in 2006.

Following a close call about three years ago when that failed and doctors told him he would have died within a week had he not got to the hospital, he was switched to dialysis at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.

Now all that changed thanks to someone who signed an organ donor card.

A little over half a day after receiving the fateful call, Mr. Marshall underwent an eight-hour surgery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to receive both a new kidney and pancreas.

“As of the night they done the surgery, I haven’t took no insulin since. It was two or three weeks I used to still go looking for that needle at meal times.” – Craig Marshall

After a seven-week recovery period, he was released from hospital Oct. 24 and returned to Newfoundland two days later a brand new person.

Mr. Marshall acknowledged it didn’t take long to realize the major impact the surgery would have on his life, when a daily habit he had required for the past two-thirds of his life was immediately no longer necessary.

“As of the night they done the surgery, I haven’t took no insulin since.

“It was two or three weeks I used to still go looking for that needle at meal times.”

The trips to Burin for dialysis three times a week are also a thing of the past.

“You can pretty much go wherever you like now. It’s only just a few pills you have to take a day. You can manage to put that in your pocket.”

Mr. Marshall said he and his family have seen the benefits of organ donation first hand, and called it “a great idea” that people should consider.

He acknowledged there are some 75 parts in a body that can be transplanted.

“One body helps a lot of people. When you die, you’re only going in the ground with parts that could help some poor person that’s sick and waiting for them.”

Indeed, Christmas came a little early for the Marshall clan this year.

“Yes, a great Christmas gift.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

Geographic location: Burin, Halifax, Nova Scotia Newfoundland

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