Ronnie Cuevas describes his daughter, Mary Lynn Cuevas Scarborough, as someone who would give you the shirt off her back — or, as it turns out, donate a kidney to her dad.
“She is my hero,” says the retired teacher and coach and diamond ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. “She’s tougher than I could ever be.”
In January 2020, doctors determined that Ronnie’s kidney function was 13 percent. Dr. Anil Paramesh, a transplant specialist with Tulane Medical Center, confirmed that his best chance was to receive a kidney from a living donor.
“I understood that my daddy and momma were very scared and wishing it could be someone else, but I was the best living donor match.”
— Mary Lynn Cuevas Scarborough
“When I found out I needed a kidney, I was devastated and not telling anyone,” the Gulfport resident recalls. “The first thing Dr. Paramesh told me to do was tell the world.”
His daughters quickly shared the story on social media, and many people, even strangers, said they would get tested. Within his own family, Ronnie’s wife, Patti, his son-in-law, Josh Threadgill and Mary were matches.
But from day one, Mary, a Realtor, wife and mom of two, was determined to be the donor.
“The conversations leading up to it were pretty cut and dry for me; in my mind, I WAS doing it,” she says. “I understood that my daddy and momma were very scared and wishing it could be someone else, but I was the best living donor match.”
Ronnie stands in awe of his daughter’s selflessness, and the feeling is mutual. Throughout her life, Mary says, her dad has been her best friend and mentor — the person she ran to when she needed help and support. To his family, she adds, “he has always been our rock and our hero.”
“He has the most caring heart you could ever see in a person, and he would do anything for you — no matter who you are or where you came from,” she says. “He is the type of person many people strive to be.”
Although she gifted her dad a kidney, Mary says she and her dad’s other loved ones received the greatest gift from the transplant: a restoration of Ronnie’s quality of life. After the April 14 procedure, he immediately felt better, and his kidney function has increased to 78 percent.
“I truly feel like I am blessed beyond measure to have my dad healthy and thriving for many years to come,” Mary says. “He can continue to be an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with.”
As for Ronnie, he feels like he’s won the Super Bowl.
“As soon as I am cleared,” he says, “we are going to Disney World!”