Originally created 03/15/03

Hospital network honors teenager



A send-off ceremony was held Friday at Lakeside Middle School for Marcus Perry - Georgia's ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network.

Marcus, 13, who is recovering from a kidney transplant he had more than two years ago, will participate in a three-day media blitz to promote the work of children's hospitals.

"Today we are here to honor a true hero," said Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, who presented Marcus with a state House and Senate resolution in his honor. "What has been proven here today is that the human spirit can overcome almost anything."

Marcus, the son of Hubert and Stephanie Perry, was recently selected to be a Foresters Champion Across America & Canada, a program held under the auspices of the Children's Miracle Network to help raise awareness of children's hospitals.

As an ambassador, he will travel to Washington on Monday and Orlando, Fla., on Thursday to represent the state and the Medical College of Georgia's Children's Medical Center.

While in Washington, Marcus will meet President Bush. During the assembly Friday, Lakeside Middle Principal Felicia Dumas gave Marcus a Lakeside Panthers hat and a water bottle filled with pens for him to give to the president.

Marcus says he already knows what he's going to say.

"I'm going to say: 'I go to Lakeside Middle School, I'm 13 and I have the best friends in the world,"' he said.

When he was 2, Marcus was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome. Throughout his childhood, he endured frequent and long hospital stays and more than 80 surgeries.

When he was 10, Marcus' kidneys failed and had to be removed. He went four months without them before he received a donated kidney from his aunt Edwina Perry, of Martinez.

Cheryl Grace, the Children's Miracle Network director for MCG's Children's Medical Center, said his spirit throughout his ordeal is what sets him apart.

"He has won all of our hearts at the Children's Medical Center," Ms. Grace said. "He represents bravery, perseverance and courage for what he had to endure and the way he endured it."

Marcus goes to an outpatient clinic monthly for blood work and still takes blood-pressure medication. He will have to take anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

He said he was looking forward the most to the trip to Walt Disney World, which will be his second time at the park.

"I'm looking forward to getting autographs from all the celebrities - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck - and the rides, too," he said.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.