She donated a kidney to a stranger, but that's not the reason Nina Martinez's decision is making international headlines. The 36-year-old Atlanta resident is HIV-positive, and the surgery at Johns Hopkins is the first time anywhere that someone living with the virus has donated an organ, reports FOX 5 Atlanta. The unidentified recipient also is HIV-positive, and both are doing well after the surgery, reports CNN. Over the last three years, surgeons have performed more than 100 organ transplants in which the donor had HIV, but in all those cases, the donor had been deceased, notes the Washington Post. The new milestone could shorten the waiting list for surgery by expanding the list of available organs.
"I think for me, first and foremost, it's the chance of showing people that I am just as normal as you," Martinez told FOX 5. "I don't think there is any better way, or more powerful way, than to donate an organ." She acquired HIV from a blood transfusion as an infant. Thanks to advances in treatment, the virus is now at undetectable levels in her body, a key reason she was allowed to donate. This is "really a celebration of HIV [medical] care and its evolution," lead transplant surgeon Dr. Dorry Segev told CNN. Both the virus and its treatment can damage kidneys, but a pre-surgery biopsy showed Martinez's to be in healthy shape. (Read more HIV stories.)