Apr 17, 2023
Dreams Take Shape: A Path from Patient to DaVita IKC teammate
Marcus and his transplant surgeon post-transplant procedure

From the moment he received a kidney transplant, Marcus Simon felt called to work in kidney care. Now, five years post-transplantation, he’s confident DaVita is where he was meant to be.

Marcus joined DaVita in 2022 as a senior analyst at DaVita Integrated Kidney Care (IKC) where he helps support patients from their first interaction with a DaVita IKC care coordination team through their entire kidney care journey.

In 2014, Marcus was still on a high from earning his MBA in health care management when he started feeling ill. What he thought was bronchitis or the flu turned out to be lung and kidney failure. He quickly went from applying for jobs to focusing on dialysis treatments in order to stay alive.

“I was checking off goals and marching toward achieving my dreams,” Marcus recalls. “The next minute I needed to be on dialysis, and there was a possibility I would need a transplant. It was a major life change.”

As Marcus began to process and come to terms with his new diagnosis, he relied heavily on his friends, family and care team for support. His care team, in particular, helped him better understand the realities and life changes required to manage life on dialysis.

The more he learned about kidney failure and his lab results, the more Marcus felt able to take control of his disease. Through that education, he found the determination to pursue kidney transplantation.

“I got to a place where I started dreaming again of achieving the goals I set for myself,” he says. “I had a completely renewed focus. I made sure I was doing everything I could to be in the best possible health so I could receive a transplant.”

Marcus learned he had two paths he could pursue for transplantation: the national transplant waitlist and living donation. So, shortly after being placed on the waitlist, he started seeking out a living donor.

He reached out to family and friends to educate them on the transplant procedure and what to expect once he was placed on the national waitlist. He also provided information on the living donation process, including the tests to find a match and facts about living with one kidney.

"The process is challenging, and there are always going to be ups and downs. But there is a way forward and a second chance at life on the other side"

Marcus Simon

“It was tough for my family because they didn’t know much about transplant and had their own level of apprehension and concern about pursuing that route simply because of the lack of education,” Marcus says. “As they learned more through my own experiences, they began to come around to what would be best for my health. They started to see that a transplant would allow me to return back to a somewhat normal life.”

Around this time, Marcus also started exploring social media, researching how to find a living donor and turning to his social media network for help. He shared his story and his ask however he could, including writing articles for local newspapers. Even his coworkers at the time were involved, with one colleague sharing Marcus’ story with their friends to increase Marcus’s network of potential donors.

While kidney patients don’t always find a living donor, living donation often provides advantages: Finding a living donor can be faster and result in a longer lifespan for the transplanted kidney. However, the gift of a kidney transplant, whether from a deceased or living donor, means a patient is no longer reliant on dialysis.

A Second Chance at Life

Marcus recalls the process of being on the waitlist and seeking a living donor as being challenging:

“You take a lot of hits and you face a lot of disappointment along the way,” Marcus says, noting that the process taught him the value of patience and education.

That disappointment turned to elation, though, when Marcus received a call in February 2018 from University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, informing him they had a kidney available for him through the national waitlist.

After surgery, Marcus felt like he was on track again and focused on the aspirations that were put on hold during his kidney journey. He also realized his health journey provided more clarity on what he wanted to do professionally.

Over the next few years, Marcus continued working in health care, primarily with insurance companies, but he continued thinking about his experience and what it could mean for his professional path. When a role with DaVita IKC opened, Marcus seized the opportunity and joined the team in August 2022—it was a perfect fit. Now, his personal experience provides him with a valuable perspective as he works with a team focused on innovative solutions to better support kidney patients across their entire health care journeys.

Learning from his own experience, Marcus wants others with kidney disease to understand resources available to them through their care teams and through integrated-care programs, like the ones DaVita IKC[1] operates. Marcus knows firsthand the challenges kidney disease presents for patients and their families, so he feels grateful to have the opportunity to give back.

“The process is challenging and there are always going to be ups and downs,” he says. “But there is a way forward and a second chance at life on the other side.”

[1] DaVita IKC provides patients and their care partners support from a team of integrated care practitioners, nurses, coordinators, physicians and more. http://www.davita.com/about/businesses/ikc

DaVita IKC services are dependent on eligibility. For individuals who are unsure of their eligibility, they can inquire with their insurance provider or talk with your dialysis center.