Marcel Noel's new kidney was 'Christmas miracle'

Cory Hurley
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Marcel Noel poses for a photo with his granddaughter, Aislynn, who lives in Alberta. After spending the past five years on a donor list, Noel received a new kidney on Christmas Eve.

CORNER BROOK — Marcel Noel and his family are celebrating what they consider the greatest of all Christmas gifts this holiday season — a kidney.

The 61-year-old Corner Brook man has spent the past five years receiving dialysis every three days. It has also been the number of cancer-free years the family has counted down for him to be placed on a donor list.

Once a very active man, who was a familiar face on Grenfell Campus of Memorial University as part of the maintenance team, Noel has been slowed physically by his health and the restrictions of constant dialysis.

He lost his first kidney to cancer in 2002. A portion of the second was taken in 2007. A year later, he was left without either one. He had to be five years cancer-free before being eligible to be a transplant recipient. That passed in October.

The family prepared for what they understood could be a long wait. Then, the phone rang about 6 a.m. Christmas Eve. Noel thought it was a co-worker of his wife Bev, looking for her to bring in coffee that morning. From what he heard of the conversation from upstairs, he knew it was something different.

“I thought, there’s no way this can be about my kidney,” he said, while recovering in hospital in Halifax, N.S.

It was.

He had to board a plane in Deer Lake just four hours later for the surgery. He dropped Christmas presents off to his son Christopher said his goodbyes, extended his holiday wishes, and received his good lucks.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Christopher said, still in Corner Brook anxiously awaiting his father’s return. “He popped into my door at like 6:30-7 o’clock in the morning, dropped off gifts on Christmas Eve, and he was like, ‘I am going to Halifax to get a kidney.’

“I was in shock,” he said. “I had those warm fuzzies all over. I was pretty excited.”

Christoper said he felt his father’s nervousness that morning, but Marcel didn’t admit to being so. Marcel said he is used to surgeries — considering he had gone under the knife for his kidneys three times and another quintuple bypass heart surgery.

Marcel said it was only the night before Christmas Eve that he was telling some friends that he hoped, some time in the new year, he would receive a kidney. Never did he imagine it would happen so soon.

It may have come just at the right time too. When being prepped at the hospital, his creatinine level was found to be 1224. That is extremely high, but it also has another significance. The transplant was done on Christmas Eve — 12/24. There are many who don’t believe in coincidences, especially considering his last name is Noel.

Bev said the nurses have been calling him “Père Noel.”

“It really is a Christmas miracle,” she said.

His stepdaughter Crista Brake was nearly overcome with excitement Friday when talking about the gift they all received.

She said her stepfather has been remarkably positive throughout his health issues ... always putting others ahead of himself when it should have been the other way around. She said the transplant, and a new lease on life, could not have happened to a better man.

“There was no concern for himself at all, and he has always been that way,” Crista said. “He would always make sure everybody else was OK, and telling us not to worry about him.

“He is just a really giving person.”

Smooth surgery

The surgery went really well, and the compatability has gone smoothly so far. If everything continues to go well, it will be no more dialysis — something that has become so routine, is kind of hard to imagine for the family.

“Right,” Marcel said. “No more dialysis. That will be nice.”

Christopher said, for the first time in years, he believes his father when he says he is doing well.

“Just to hear him say it,” he said. “He will never really tell you how he is doing, because you know how he really is doing ... This time, now that he has a kidney, he is actually telling you he is doing better.”

With that new lease on life, his family is looking forward to just getting back to being able to do the simple things they have been prohibited from doing with him. For Christopher, that is having a game of catch.

“We tried sometimes, but he would get too tired after just a few minutes,” he said. “I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it is something that is a huge memory for us.”

Marcel agreed. He is also looking to book a vacation to Calgary, Alta. to spend time with his daughter Robyn. It is part of his plan to get back to travelling, something he always loved.

It is still one step at a time, but right now, it is hard not to dream big. After all, they just went through one Christmas miracle.




Geographic location: Corner Brook, Halifax, Deer Lake

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Recent comments

  • Yvonne Bonia
    December 31, 2013 - 12:17

    On December 25th early morning my brother was given a gift of a kidney and a chance to live a normal life again. We want to pay our condolences to the family who's loved one passed away and gave the gift of life to my brother. Our prayers and thoughts are with your family. Please know that your love one is Marcel's hero and that their spirit lives on.He will be forever thankful to your family for your bravery and strength to allow this procedure to take place in the midst of your grief.May you find some peace in this.God bless your family.

    • Gloria (White) Mesnic
      January 02, 2014 - 08:12

      Hello Noel Family. I was so happy to check the Western Star and see something significant for a change. I was aware that Marcel was not well from my visits home each summer whenever I would run into his sister at Dominion. We grew up on the same street so long ago. I wish you a speedy recovery, Marcel, and the best of health and prosperity from now on. Take care.

  • Albert Hickey
    December 30, 2013 - 08:10

    I have fond memories of Marcel from my days at Regina in the late 60s. I hadn't heard he was ill, but I am definitely happy to hear he is with us still, and doing well.. All the very best to Marcel and his family for the New Year..

  • Bonnie
    December 28, 2013 - 18:56

    All the best for you and God watch over you! congrt. on new life. One day at a time.

  • Wayne Barrett
    December 28, 2013 - 18:33

    There's no better Christmas gift than receiving a life saving organ. But let us all remember that someone's heart is also broken for losing a loved one who donated their life saving organs.

  • don stoner
    December 28, 2013 - 18:29

    Our thought's are with you man. get well soon. Don &Jan and family.Freelton Ontario

  • Shawn Penney
    December 28, 2013 - 16:52

    Way to go Uncle Mars!!! We are so proud and excited for you!! If people don't believe in Xmas miracles you better start believing now!!

  • John and Deloris Noel
    December 28, 2013 - 16:28

    So happy for you Marcel a long wait but well worth it take care now and don't rush it, relax and take it day by day and a speedy recovery for you, and happy for your children to have you back again. Love Jack and Deloris

  • NS Lady
    December 28, 2013 - 16:16

    What a nice story and a happy ending! What makes this so hard for me to say is that some people would like to be able to thank the donor family for the donation, or the recipients would love to know who and where there loved ones went to. The sad thing about it all is that it is anonymous! I know one family would love to know where thieir mothers organs went to! They had 4 days of waiting after their mother passed away! The brothers and sisters would love to know! But they cant! The long wait is another thing that ever turned me from donating, if the recipents only realized that people lay in the beds lifeless for 4 days and realize that its just as hard on them and it is for the donor family! So a little letter of gratitude would be nice. I would love to sign my card but before I do the wait time will have to be less than what it is! I know that they have to do a run of testing to make sure that all the organs are good,, but waiting for the teams is along wait! I know that you Mr Noel will be happy in knowing that you will be healthy and happy tp spend time with your family and god bless you for getting the dontation that you need. But remember there is someone else that lives inside you and the donor family may want to hear a nice than you letter for recieving the gift of life all over again!

  • Eric
    December 28, 2013 - 15:57

    That's wonderful news Marcel! Yay for science!

  • Paul Broadbent
    December 28, 2013 - 14:57

    It's wonderful to see such a deserving person have a true Christmas Miracle. We were friends/neighbours as kids ... a lifetime ago. From what I've read here, you haven't changed a bit. Happy New Year Marcel.

  • Edward Smith
    December 28, 2013 - 13:31

    Wow...what a great story. Truly a Christmas miracle for Marcel.

  • Tammy Peddle
    December 28, 2013 - 13:20

    Marcel we would like to know that we are happy to hear that you received a kidney and to someone who deserves it, Dad (Sterling Peddle that you worked with) is so happy to hear the news. We wish you a very speedy recovery.

  • Sheldon Peddle
    December 28, 2013 - 11:02

    This is great news. All the best Marcel. We do miss seeing you around Grenfell.

  • H. Pennell
    December 28, 2013 - 10:34

    To the Noel family, thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us. This is indeed a Christmas miracle! All the best to Mr. Noel and I extend sincere best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.

  • joanne
    December 28, 2013 - 07:11

    You are on the list of miracles of Christmas in corner brook instead of 34th st Such a nice story..Though you are a stranger to me, I wish you a speedy recovery and well wishes for a long healthy life to enjoy the things you want to do. I believe in godincidences not coincidences, this is definitely one !!!!

  • Robyn MacLean
    December 28, 2013 - 06:02

    A Christmas miracle indeed. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Love you Dad.

  • Yvonne bonia
    December 28, 2013 - 05:55

    My family would like to thank everybody for all the support that Marcel is getting.If there's anyone that deserves a miracle it is Marcel. We are all so grateful.

  • Robyn MacLean
    December 28, 2013 - 02:03

    A Christmas miracle indeed. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Love you Dad.

  • Kathy Quilty
    December 27, 2013 - 22:59

    That is wonderful news and wish you well for a speedy recovery.

  • Diane Young
    December 27, 2013 - 22:51

    Omg so very happy to hear the great news.What a wonderful Christmas gift. Hope all is going well..

  • Ken Legge
    December 27, 2013 - 21:13

    I guess this means our Fogo trip is on ...congrats buddy , see you when you get back ...from your almost brother Ken ,,in twillingste !

  • April Wells
    December 27, 2013 - 20:47

    Congratulations to my Aunt Bev and Uncle Marce for such a wonderful Christmas gift. Also a big thank-you to the Western Starr for writing such a lovely article.

  • Linda Parsons
    December 27, 2013 - 20:41

    So happy for you & your family,speedy recovery buddy

  • theresa locke
    December 27, 2013 - 17:57

    It is truly a miracle.Very happy for you.

  • Denise Blackwood Walker
    December 27, 2013 - 17:32

    God bless you Noel, Bev and your families! What an amazing Christmas gift.