ATLANTA – If you ask Nina Martinez why she has struggled so much to become the first kidney donor living with HIV +,
his answer is quite simple.
"I just wanted to be like everyone else," Martinez said. "I think in 2019, it's going to amaze a lot of people, because I'm sitting here today, as a person living with HIV for 35 years, and I'm about to donate of this body. "
The Atlanta resident, 36, contracted HIV during a blood transfusion in the early 1980s, before a virus test was set up.
"That blood saved my life," Martinez says. "I needed this blood, and someone needed this kidney, so for me personally, it's a vicious circle to be able to give an organ."
Before the adoption of the HOPE law in 2013, it was illegal for a person living with HIV to register as a donor of organs.
In December 2018, the Unified Organ Sharing Network reports that 100 transplants were performed between HIV + and HIV + recipients.
All the donors were dead.
But the public health consultant did not want to wait until her death to help anyone.
"I wanted to make a difference when I was still alive," she says. "I wanted to be a living kidney donor."
On March 25, after three and a half years of testing, Martinez granted his wish at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, donating a kidney to a stranger, who wishes to remain anonymous.
To be able to do this, she had to pass a series of medical tests.
"You must have an undetected viral load, which means that the lab tests do not find evidence of your virus in your bloodstream," she says. "It does not mean that you are cured, it just means that the detection level is below the detection threshold."
Becoming a living donor carries risks.
HIV can damage the kidneys, as well as some drugs used to treat the virus.
So, Martinez has been carefully examined,
Unlike most living donors, she also had to have a kidney biopsy.
"They do not see HIV as a major risk factor for kidney failure later in life," Martinez said. "They really look at what they look for everyone, that is to say that I am young.I do not have a history of hypertension and diabetes. . "
It's a big step, she says, and emotional.
"I think there is so much HIV-related stigma," she says. "I'm a very confident person, but when you have to listen to a lot of messages from society, you're a second-class citizen, you're below, it's fine."
But with this gift, Nina Martinez hopes to change the way people perceive HIV.
"I think for me, it's first and foremost a chance to show people that I'm as normal as you," Martinez said. "And, I do not think there's a better way or a more powerful way than giving an organ."