SCE Employee Donates Kidney to Coworker
SCE Employee Donates Kidney to Coworker
Almost 35 years ago, Phillip Sonoqui, 56, and Mark Morris, 57, started their careers at Southern California Edison as meter readers. And when a groundman position opened up 34 years ago, Morris remembers Sonoqui encouraging him to pursue the position first, helping to launch his career.
It’s a kindness Morris never forgot, and he recently got a chance to repay his good friend when he learned Sonoqui had fallen ill and needed a new kidney. After months of testing, Morris was a match and donated his kidney to Sonoqui on June 11.
“Mark took ‘my brother’s keeper’ to a whole new level. It’s a debt I can never repay and I thank him constantly for the time and quality of life he has given me,” said Sonoqui of Visalia, who had his surgery at UCSF Medical Center and is now back at work as a district manager for SCE’s Tulare District. “Mark has a big heart and he is considered a saint in my family.”
“This needed to happen – it wasn’t a hard decision,” said Morris of Exeter, who is also a district manager in SCE’s Shaver Lake area. “He was living, but he wasn’t really living.”
About three years ago, Sonoqui learned his kidneys were failing. A diabetic, he had high blood pressure for several years. When he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure, his doctor put him on dialysis, which made sleeping difficult. He was put on the donor list and was given about seven years to live without a new kidney.
Still, Sonoqui came to work each day and about a year ago, he let his coworkers know about his failing health. Coworker Kim Dias sent a department email, including information on how to be tested as a possible donor. Morris got the email and knew he wanted to help.
“I didn’t really understand there was a living donor program. I read the email and at that moment something hit me inside and I started researching,” said Morris, who noted he spoke to his wife who agreed with his decision immediately.
Morris also knew that Sonoqui has a 10-year-old daughter in addition to two adult children.
“Phil has a young daughter and my children are all grown. I thought, what more can I give in this world?” said Morris, who has four adult children and three grandchildren himself.
Morris got tested locally in Visalia and after several months, he learned he was a match to be a donor in September. After months of planning and setting a date for the surgery, the COVID-19 pandemic happened in March causing delays.
But after months of waiting, June 11 is now their “kidneyversary.”
“The difference between then and now is night and day. Before and after surgery, I look so different. I feel so much better,” said Sonoqui.
In addition to starting their careers together, both men have served in similar roles over the years and are currently district managers. In addition, they have worked together on several storms and emergencies over the years.
“Thirty four years ago, he did a nice thing for me. We have a lineman’s bond because we came up through the craft,” said Morris.
Mark took ‘my brother’s keeper’ to a whole new level. It’s a debt I can never repay and I thank him constantly for the time and quality of life he has given me. Mark has a big heart and he is considered a saint in my family.”Phillip Sonoqui
In addition to organ donation, he is hoping to inspire others to look into ways to help others, including donating blood or volunteering your time.
Sonoqui’s eldest daughter, Erica Finnan, who lives in Mississippi, recently wrote a letter thanking Morris for saving her father’s life.
“You are giving a gift to my father that I cannot. I have felt very defeated over the years watching my father's health decline and not being able to do anything to help,” she wrote. “Because of you, I will be able to take more adventures with my dad who loves sightseeing. His four grandsons and granddaughter will get to enjoy their G-Paw for a much longer time.”
“Mark is a kind-hearted man who would give you the shirt off his back,” said Sonoqui. “He is forever my hero.”