By Noe Gutierrez

Empathy: the ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes and experience life through their eyes. Do your best to put yourself in these shoes. You have Type 2 diabetes and are in need of a kidney transplant. You had to stop working in 2015 after being diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease. Some of the symptoms you have had to cope with include; fatigue, edema and shortness of breath, kidney pain felt in your back, sleep problems due to muscle cramps or restless legs, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and nerve problems. On top of all this you have to withstand dialysis three times a week and are near blindness. This is the current life situation of Marcie Legarreta.

Thankfully, Marcie didn’t have to look far for a kidney donor. “I have an angel on my side. The love of my life, Ernie, is donating his kidney to me”. Ernesto Martinez is Marcie’s hero and significant other. “I have gone through a lot of testing. I am honored to be able to donate a kidney to my best friend.  I have seen Marcie fight every day to live her life to the fullest. She had served this community passionately as a social worker for the County of Riverside and a child abuse and neglect consultant for 16 years. Marcie has put her best out there to help those in need and has given 110 percent. I want to bless her by giving her a kidney. She deserves so much more and I know once she receives it she will continue to work to serve children and families in need”. Many in the criminal justice system and children’s services, including myself, have had the honor of working with Marcie in the past. She spent many years protecting children’s’ well-being, helping families reunify as well as finding permanent placements for children needing a home.

In mid-November, Marcie, Ernie and their respective surgical teams will enter Loma Linda University Medical Center to complete the transplant. The couple, who reside in Bermuda Dunes, have a supportive network of family, former fellow employees and friends. Although it seems the biggest challenge they face is the transplant itself, there is the ongoing stress of finances. Ernie shared, “I have tried to work through all of this but employers won’t allow so much time off. It has been difficult for us financially”.  Both Marcie and Ernie will require long-term follow up care once the surgery is complete. Ernie has not been able to work due to the demands of testing for compatibility and what he has needed to do to be fit for surgery. Because of this, they are asking for temporary help from the community through a GoFundMe account. The goal is $7,500 and will be used to help them with multiple trips to and from Loma Linda for post-op care as well as cover the costs of utilities and other miscellaneous bills. They will also need help in paying for caregivers for both of them during a three month period after surgery.


Coachella Valley Weekly, together with Chris Spellman, founder of Comic Con Palm Springs and friend of the family, would like to ask the community to rally around Marcie and Ernie as they continue their fight. Marcie has been through a lot in the past year.  

“I lost my brother, Marcos Legarreta, to diabetes a year ago October 27th. He was on dialysis and he was only 55 years old. My dad died a year ago of Parkinson’s disease. In my opinion those are two of the primary problems in the Coachella Valley. There is limited support for people with Parkinson’s. Once I am able, I would like to start a local chapter for Parkinson’s. I’m affiliated with the New York chapter currently. Many in the Latino community need the education. I want to do a lot more outreach. If you’re not knowledgeable you’re not asking the right questions”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control at least 24 million children and adults in the United States have type 2 diabetes; out of a total of nearly 26 million who have either type 1 or type 2.