A kidney transplant recipient and his volunteer organ donor were recently featured on WJLA TV news when their inspiring story gave many people a cause for celebration.
The recipient, a 24 year old man named Agustin De La O Martinez, had been on dialysis for years due to a childhood disease. Inova transplant surgeon Dr. Johann Jonsson said Martinez’s kidneys “had failed completely,” adding that “It’s really, really rewarding to take care of somebody like this, especially a young person. You are really giving them their life back.”
The organ donor, 31-year-old special education teacher Kat Velkoff, was a stranger to Martinez who had recently volunteered to become a living kidney donor.
Dr. James Piper, also from the Inova transplant team, said, “Most of these donors are relatives or friends. . . Just imagine somebody like Catherine coming forward [and] saying I want to help someone I don’t even know. . . That’s above and beyond.”
After the successful operation, Martinez told WJLA “I just have so much gratitude for her. I’ve never met anyone who would do that for a complete stranger.”
Martinez and Velkoff were able to meet each other inside the hospital two days after their successful surgeries (both tested negative for COVID-19 and wore masks the whole time). Although they were not able to share a hug, they got to know a little bit about each other and share their plans to stay in touch.