Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Sandwich shop owner Marcus Gilbert, left, is helping Juan Delgado get a kidney transplant.

Marcus Gilbert of Roy makes a habit of treating his employees very well. Employment gives them a way of life. But to a 16-year-old Orem boy, Gilbert is giving life itself.

Gilbert owns two sandwich shops, part of the Charley's Grilled Subs franchise. He has owned and operated the Layton Hills Mall location for six years and just acquired the one in Orem early this year.

He was actually asked to purchase the Orem shop last summer. He and his wife, Monica, declined. But when they were asked again in the fall, "something changed," Gilbert said. The purchase became final in February, and in March, he met Juan Delgado.

Juan's sister Esmerelda Delgado, 15, worked for Gilbert at the time.

"She told me her brother needed a job, but he had some health problems that made it hard for him to work," Gilbert said. Juan was given a job, and eventually his mother, Maria, was hired to work part time as well.

Juan Delgado was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease three years ago, resulting in complete and irreversible kidney failure. Gilbert said the boy is going through dialysis three times a week, for three to four hours per day.

Earlier this year, when Gilbert found out that Delgado needed a kidney, he helped start a fundraising effort to raise money. But then, when

he learned the teen still needed to find a suitable donor, Gilbert and his wife were both tested.

Gilbert, who has four young children of his own, was a perfect match.

The cost of the kidney has been covered by another organization. However, the boy's family must also have about $100,000 to cover post-operative expenses.

A fund has been established with the Northwest Kidney Transplant Fund, a nonprofit organization that raises money exclusively for noninsured expenses. Donations can be made in Juan Delgado's name by calling 800-642-8399, by visiting www.transplantfund.org, or by sending donations directly to National Transplant Assistance Fund, 150 N. Radnor Chester Road, Suite F-120, Radnor, PA 19087.

In addition, Gilbert is working with another donor on a raffle to be held at Charley's that will help raise funds for the transplant. He is hoping both store locations will be able to participate, but those details have not yet been completed.

According to Gilbert, the transplant should occur sometime next month. Delgado lost weight during a recent illness, so his doctors are waiting for him to gain some weight and the strength to undergo surgery.


E-mail: amacavinta@desnews.com