Anthony Marino receives lifesaving kidney transplant

Published 7:41 am Saturday, July 22, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LAPLACE — A successful kidney transplant has restored Anthony Marino’s health and hope for the future.

A Team Anthony fundraiser has been scheduled for noon on Saturday, August 12 at the VFW Home on W. Fifth Street in LaPlace to raise money for Marino’s medical expenses. Each $15 plate includes BBQ chicken quarters, dirty rice, corn, and bread. A 50/50 raffle will also be available. Preorders can be sent via Venmo @Dawn-lucia-2, and cash donations will be accepted via CashApp at $AnthonyMarinoFund.

Dawn Lucia, the organizer of the fundraiser, can be reached at 504-259-3296.

“Anthony is one of those people that everyone in St. John Parish knows. This parish always seems to come together for a fundraiser when someone is in need,” Lucia said.  “I would really like to make this happen for Anthony. He’s got such a kind and giving heart.”

Anthony was on the kidney transplant list for approximately one year. Shortly after losing all of his belongings during Hurricane Ida, Anthony’s kidney disease progressed until he was left with a terrifying choice: start dialysis or have six months to live. He chose to start dialysis, leading him to undergo hospital stays and surgeries as he fought for his life. In the process, he had to work harder to perform everyday tasks of living.

Anthony’s miracle came from the tragic loss of organ donor Kristin Anne Elizabeth Chorette, who passed away in a car accident in Baton Rouge on July 15 at 35 years old. Kristin’s family remembers her as a free spirit who touched everyone with her smile, kind blue eyes and infectious lust for life. She was a devoted mother with a giving heart.

Organ donor Kristin Anne Elizabeth Chorette’s legacy will live on through Anthony Marino.

“Since Kristin loved giving to others, being an organ donor allows her tradition to continue,” her family wrote in her obituary.

Michael Hoover, Anthony’s caregiver and father figure, received a text Sunday from an individual who had a connection to Kristin’s family.

“The family saw the information about Anthony needing a kidney. That night, I spoke with her sister, Leigh, and she said Kristin was going to give the gift of life,” Hoover said. “The expectation was that it was going to be a kidney for a kidney because the chances of a match are very slim in those cases, but hopefully it would push Anthony higher up on the list. Twenty-four hours later, we got a text message from the family saying the kidney was a match.”

Within 45 minutes, Hoover got the long-awaited call from Ochsner that signaled it was time for Anthony’s transplant. They arrived at the hospital Tuesday just after midnight and spent the remainder of the night prepping Anthony with an EKG, x-rays and bloodwork. Everything, including the initial tests on the new kidney, looked good to go.

Anthony was then wheeled back into a surgery that was expected to take four to five hours but ended up only taking two. The kidney adapted to Anthony’s body quickly and without any complications. By the time Anthony came back from recovery, the kidney had already put out a bag of urine. Anthony was out of bed and able to walk around by the following day.

“A miracle is the only word I can keep using,” Hoover said. “It’s one of the best outcomes the doctor has ever seen out of all the years of doing this. The kidney turned pink very quickly. There was no ‘sleeping phase,’ which was expected because normally kidneys take some time to kick in. Shortly after it was put in, it began to take over and perform all of the functions necessary.”

Hoover has kept in close contact with Kristin’s family throughout the process.

“We have had some very emotional conversations,” he said. “The donor’s family is from Texas, and we made the decision that once Anthony is capable, the families are going to meet together to celebrate both lives.”

Hoover first met Anthony when he was a police officer visiting a fifth grade classroom. Anthony was always a little different from the other kids and was eager about asking lots of questions, leading him to be picked on by his peers. After the class was over, Hoover spent some time with him at recess.

Life brought the two together time and time again. Hoover was the responding officer when Anthony’s stepfather passed away. On another occasion, Hoover was there to help when Anthony was pushing buggies at Walmart and passed out from heat exhaustion. Hoover and his wife decided to take Anthony under their wing after his mother passed away. They taught him how to cook, balance a checkbook, and be self-sufficient. Through that process, Anthony began to call the Hoovers Mom and Dad.

“I realized that everything we take for granted, Anthony had never really experienced. He had never left the area or gone on vacation. He had never been on an airplane. I got with my wife and we created a bucket list for him of things that he needs to experience,” Hoover said. “You need to find that person in your life who doesn’t have those experiences and give them a life. Share what you know; share what you have. If we did that, everybody would be so much better.”

Anthony’s bucket list has included adventures with the Hoovers from Global Wildlife to Walt Disney World, and a return trip to Magic Kingdom might just be in the cards now that he isn’t tied to dialysis. Doctors are hopeful he will be able to travel again by the end of the year.

After the transplant, Hoover asked Anthony if he was ready to get back to his adventures. “What’s next on the list?” he asked.

With a big smile on his face, Anthony answered “the Mouse.”