Belen super goes in for kidney transplant, found a ‘perfect match’

........................................................................................................................................................................................

Other than the orange bracelet dangling from his wrist, everything went on like any other business day at the Belen Consolidated Schools’ Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

Superintendent Ron Marquez expressed ideas with his hands as he spoke to the board, making the admission’s bracelet jiggle around. The maroon and gold shirt he wore didn’t give away that he was preparing for a kidney transplant in less than two days — an operation Marquez has been waiting for more than a year, but couldn’t get until he lost weight.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: After waiting for more than a year, Belen Consolidated Schools’ Superintendent Ron Marquez will be undergoing a kidney transplant. His surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning.

Bright and early Thursday morning he’ll show up for the three-hour long transplant at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque. For Marquez’s donor and cousin, Glenda Inda, the removal of one of her kidneys will be a four-hour long procedure.

Laser surgery will remove her kidney and place it in a plastic bag before sending it off to Marquez. This kidney will be added next to Marquez’s two kidneys.

Doctors called Inda a “perfect match,” for Marquez, who underwent a day’s worth of blood exams Tuesday before the school board meeting.

He also spent time with Inda Tuesdsay learning why she wanted to give him a kidney.

“She said, ‘I’m 52 years old and I don’t have any kids. I don’t plan on having any kids and we’ve always been very close, and I thought, Why can’t I donate my kidney to you?’” Marquez said.

“It’s working out beautifully and kind of a tearjerker. She made me feel welcome, because you still ask yourself why. She’s so genuine.”

At first Marquez didn’t know Inda was undergoing medical exams to check if she would be a good match as a kidney donor for him until the final exam. Once doctors confirmed she was, Marquez was told to drop 15 pounds.

Losing weight would improve his chances of success during the transplant, as well as counteract any weight gain from taking anti-rejection medication.

In April, Marquez committed to walking every morning for 40 minutes. When he weighed in about two weeks ago, he dropped his weight from 247 to 229 pounds.

“I’ve done that faithfully every day that I’ve gotten to the point where if I don’t do it I miss it,” he said. “It’s a habit.”

Marquez hopes to be sent home from the hospital Monday, his 54th birthday.

“It’s a birthday and father’s day gift,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better gift.”

Recovery time could take from six to eight weeks.

The district’s director of business and finance, George Perea, and district’s director of instruction and curriculum, Geneva Nixon, will fill in for Marquez as interim superintendent during his recovery.

Marquez’s kidney failure was diagnosed in June 2010 after years of not having his high blood pressure under control.

Blood tests revealed his kidneys were functioning at a 13 percent capacity, which pointed to the underlying cause — Marquez suffered from Stage 4 chronic kidney disease.

Doctors instructed him to watch his diet, but five months later, his kidney function dropped to 7 percent. At that point, Marquez became a candidate for dialysis. He has spent almost three hours, six days a week, on a home dialysis machine that filters his blood since then.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.