Deputies share life-saving exchange

The two friends will head into surgery next week at a hospital in Pittsburgh

Two friends will be going to UPMC in Pittsburgh early next week for surgery. Marcy Wagner’s surgery will come first. She’s donating her kidney to Mahoning County Sheriff's Deputy John Marenkovic.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Two friends will be going to UPMC in Pittsburgh early next week for surgery. Marcy Walter’s surgery will come first. She’s donating her kidney to Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy John Marenkovic.

John said Marcy’s donated organ will act as a backup for his own, which now only has about 11 percent function left.

John knew he has had polycystic kidney disease for decades. Three of his four siblings have already had kidney transplants, and he knew eventually he would need one, too.

John began passing cards around the sheriff’s department six months ago with donor information. Then, his long-time friend and fellow deputy, Marcy Walter, stepped in.

“I was just texting, checking up on him and he said I need a donor. It’s at that stage,” Marcy said.

Marcy was the first to volunteer for donor testing. She says it didn’t take much in the way of soul-searching before she told her own five children was she was wanted to do.

“I said this is what I’d like to do and they said okay. We are on board,” Marcy said.

Next came an extensive series of tests, not only to see if she was a match for John but that she’d survive with only one kidney. Marcy said they checked her DNA, which was a very close match, along with her lung and heart function.

During the surgery, John will get Marcy’s kidney but keep both of his own.

“I’ll keep the two kidneys I have and they’ll put the third kidney right in front,” John said.

Marcy says she’ll be off the job about six weeks. John will need a little longer to recover followed by months of testing.

“It’s lifesaving,” John said.

Marcy says she is grateful for the opportunity to help – an incredible Christmas gift for the two friends and their families.

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