Verna's Story of Hope and Inspiration


My name is Verna Marzo. It means "born in spring", but my birthday is in the fall. I’m short and skinny, but I have a lot of energy. I love traveling. I enjoy the outdoors and doing extreme adventures. I've gone paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, shark cage diving, and lots more. I ate healthy, was always active and never had any serious health issues. That all changed last March.

I was rushed to emergency early morning and had an emergency hysterectomy in the evening. The next morning, my large intestine was removed and the doctors informed my sister, Debie, that I only have 10% chance to survive. This was reduced to 2% the following day. I was on life support. Doctors thought I would’t make it. I'd been diagnosed with septic shock.

The next few days in the ICU proved to be more challenging. The sepsis resulted not only in removal of my large intestine, but all my limbs as well. My kidneys were severely damaged. My Intensivist thought that if I can make it, I will be on dialysis for the rest of my life. But after a few weeks, my kidneys started working and I didn't require dialysis anymore. My brain is now free of blood clots. The stroke and abscess didn’t damage my brain. My liver is ok now. I lost my hair and eyelashes but now they’re back. I lost my sight for few days but I can see again. I lost my arms and legs but I have prosthesis. 

The day I was taken to emergency, friends came together to help me and my family in every way. They called themselves Team Verna. They are all busy people, but made time for the team. Every day after work, they’d come to the hospital to encourage one another and pray for me. They fought the good fight of faith! Every one had their own assignment - handling legal matters, processing insurance claims, communicating to doctors to make sure they are working together as a team, chasing (almost harassing!) people for the accomplishment of so much paper works, monitoring my bank account and business, making sure I eat (I prefer home-cooked food rather than hospital food), comforting me with their great voices and instruments. Name it, they handled all my needs very well. I felt only love and kindness. Because of this, I was able to concentrate to become healthy again. Depression didn’t consume me. There is strength in unity!

I was like a baby – I could not do anything. Then I have to start "growing up" and learning how to do things again. I will grow and develop and I shall be able to do everything. It’s not easy but with determination and dedication, it is possible. There is hope.

In a testament to my unshakeable enthusiasm and determination, I won the dance contest put on by CTV Calgary (Canada) and received VIP tickets to a meet-and-greet and in-studio interview with Ellen Degeneres. It was a full-circle moment for me — watching the daytime show helped get me through the long, painful 263 days in the hospital.

My adventurous personality couldn’t be bottled up so I continue to set high goals for myself. Already I’m back to regular exercise on a stationary bike and treadmill. I also finished a two 5K races surrounded by Team Verna, and wants to return to running charity races, something I’m extremely passionate about. My next goal? I want to run a marathon. I want to challenge myself. I want to know what my limit is.

My next step is securing a pair of extremely expensive running blades, for which I’m currently fundraising. Being the adventurous person I am, my current leg prosthetics are too heavy for the arduous activities I’m seeking out. Running blades would be a game changer.

May the story of my life will inspire you to help others, to have the courage to embrace challenge and never quit.

If you would like to help me achieve my goals of running and living life to the fullest, please consider making a donation through my GoFundMe page below.

The article above was written by Verna Marzo, and is shared here with her explicit consent. The views in the article do not necessarily represent those of the Global Sepsis Alliance. They are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The whole team here at the GSA and World Sepsis Day wishes to thank Verna and Team Verna for sharing her story and for fighting to raise awareness of sepsis.

If you were touched by Verna’s story, please support her campaign or donate to World Sepsis Day. Thank you.

Marvin Zick