Langford teacher who survived dog mauling donates kidney to stranger
VICTORIA -- Mark's science classroom is filled with many things constructed by his 3D printer. There's porcupines, tool holders and a water tap – made after a student broken the original knob. But ,the machine wouldn't have been able to fix what a stranger's pitbull did to Mark's face.
"This entire portion of my nose was on the ground," Mark says before showing how the dog also ripped his top lip down to his chin.
Mark endured 17 or 18 surgeries to reconstruct his face. Although he's forgot exactly how many times he was in the hospital, Mark will always remember that his daughter was there after he was. She was treated for a brain tumour when she was five, before it grew back when she was seven.
"It's crushing," Mark says of the experiences. "If you get knocked down once, you get up. Twice, you get up. Three times, you start wondering what's going on."
Mark says he lost hope and suffered from depression and anxiety. But then one day – he made a conscious decision to ask for help from his faith and family.
"I just started taking one step in front of the other," he explains. "Things started to get better, slowly."
His daughter ended up surviving and he started focusing on finding the good in all the bad.
Mark says he feels gratitude for many aspects of the experience. He's grateful his daughter saw him improving after all his surgeries because she had no fear about hers. He's grateful he was forced to change careers, because he's now a teacher who inspires students. He's also grateful to have found a way to pay it all forward.
"I'm going to Vancouver at the beginning of February and donating a kidney to a complete stranger," he says.
Mark says he felt compelled to become a living organ donor as an act of kindness. During the year-long process, he's occasionally felt nervous about the surgery, but consistently confident about the decision. "Because being on dialysis is not a life," he explains. "I wanted to give somebody the opportunity to make a difference in other people's lives."
Mark hopes his donation will create a chain of compassion. While he knows most people won't choose to show kindness with a kidney, they can do it with a cup of coffee.
"Buy Tim Horton's for the person behind you in the drive-thru," Mark suggests with a smile. "It’s the little things. Take a step. Move forward."