Mark Newton, bluegrass singer, promoter, and booking agent, has reached another important milestone in his quest to recover from the effects of a serious hepatitis C infection. Following a successful liver transplant earlier this year, Mark was cleared to receive a kidney transplant as well, which was performed this week at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Newton was quite prominent in bluegrass during the 1970s and ’80s, recording and touring with well-known groups like The Knoxville Grass, The Heights of Grass, and The Virginia Squires. He was also deeply involved in the production of the annual Graves Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Virginia in addition to a burgeoning solo career. But not long after he moved from his home town of Fredericksburg, VA to Nashville, Mark began to experience symptoms of fatigue and lack of energy.
When his family noticed that his skin was looking gray, Mark been to take this seriously, and as this was in May of 2002, he decided to see his doctor when he got back from the Graves Mountain festival. He never made it back to Nashville that month, and was taken to the UVA Medical Center in nearby Charlottesville where he received a twin diagnosis of hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver.
For the next 20 years he experienced a number of serious periods of sickness and hospitalization in between periods of decent health. Late in 2021, however, his condition became progressively worse to the point that a liver transplant was required to save his life. Fortunately, an organ became available and he underwent the transplant procedure in February of this year.
Mark talked at length about this lengthy and tedious process in an interview back in March.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. Liver disease is a horrible, horrible experience. When you go into failure, all these other conditions hit. Then confusion can just take over. I must have had a half dozen terrible episodes that took me to the hospital when I didn’t know who I was.
You just can’t believe it. Two days before my surgery I thought I was going to die in that hospital. I was trying to work through all that at a time when I couldn’t communicate because I was hooked up to all the machines.”
As many people know from experience, once major organs go into failure, it affects others as well. Mark had to go through regular dialysis after the liver transplant when his kidney function dropped.
But he received a call on Monday evening notifying him that a kidney was available, and that surgery was scheduled for the next day. Newton and his family were at Vanderbilt at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, and all went well with Mark now the recipient of a new kidney.
His doctors expect that he will be able to return to a largely normal life at this point, once he has fully recovered from surgery. He is expected to be released from hospital today or tomorrow.
Mark had already begun offering artist representation services following his initial transplant, and will be full speed ahead before long.
Wonderful news, and congratulations and best of luck to a true bluegrass warrior!