He had been waiting for the life-saving body for seven years, she begged him for years to accept the donation

When Antonieta González and Junior Vázquez-Picasso met at El Rancho High School in the city of Pico Rivera in Los Angeles County, they never imagined that their lives would be sealed forever through an unusual act of love, the donation of a kidney

On October 11, Antonieta, 33, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrant parents, donated one of her kidneys to Junior, 31, the son of Mexican immigrant parents. Both were born in Los Angeles.

They are not boyfriends, nor do they plan to be. The donation is just a product of friendship, they say.

"Now I am a little bit Salvadoran," says Junior who had been undergoing dialysis for seven years.

"I got kidney disease at age 23," he says.

Junior Vázquez Picasso shows the clots left by dialysis. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Prior to diagnosis, he spent two weeks in very poor health without wanting to go to the hospital. “You don't look good, they told me. It wasn't until one day that I felt that everything was moving, that I asked a friend to take me to the hospital, ”he recalls.

The diagnosis was fulminant. They detected him renal failure in its final stage.

"The only option presented to me at that time to save my life was to undergo dialysis three times a week, four or three and a half hours each time," he says.

But over time, in one of the arms where he applied dialysis, because of the needle sticks, enormous blood clots began to be made. It was then that his doctors told him again that the best option was to find someone who could donate a kidney.

Antonieta González donates one of her kidneys to her friend Junior Vázquez Picasso. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Friendship born in adolescence

Junior says he and Antoinette were introduced by other friends in high school.

"We were both very happy and connected immediately," he says.

However, when they graduated, they lost contact for about ten years until in 2014 they reconnected on Facebook.

“When I found him again, I was already a mother of three children who are now 14, 11 and 8 years old, and I was separating,” says Antonieta.

Junior had also had a daughter who is now 12 years old.

“When we saw each other again, the friendship grew even more because at that time my mother died of cancer and I went into a very deep depression. I didn't want to get out of my bed, and he helped me get over it, ”says Antonieta.

He adds that Junior was also a great emotional support during his separation from the father of his children. “He even went to school for my children. And they love him very much, ”he says.

Junior Vázquez Picasso receives a kidney from his friend Antonieta González. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Kidney donation

Antoinette knew since they reconnected that Junior needed a kidney donor. She without thinking, offered it.

“Again and again Junior rejected my proposal. I was worried that something might happen to me during the transplant, and that my children were going to run out of their mother. I am everything they have, ”he observes.

Junior on his own knocked on every possible door in search of a donor that would save his life.

“At least eight of my friends and family swore and assured me that they had not qualified to be donors. But then I would find out that they never even made the request to see if they qualified, ”he adds.

Last May when doctors gave him a new ultimatum about the urgency of a kidney, Antonieta once again told her friend that she was willing to donate one of her kidneys.

"Why do not do it. He is my friend. He has done a lot for me. My children appreciate it. He is a good father and I want him to see his daughter grow, ”says Antoinette as she wipes her tears.

Finally Junior accepted the proposal. Now all that was missing was for Antonieta to be compatible.

“We should have the same blood type OR positive. So almost a month after I did all the tests, it came out that we were compatible in blood and tissue, ”Antonieta talks excitedly as she remembers the moment.

"I laughed a lot of happiness at that time," he says.

And he adds that he came out very healthy in the exams. “The doctor only recommended that I lose about ten pounds so that my recovery would be faster. And so I did, every day I walked an hour and I started to drink a lot of water. In two months, I lost ten pounds, ”he says.

Antonieta González recovers in the hospital after donating one of her kidneys to her friend Junior Vázquez Picasso. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

The most anticipated day

A day before the transplant, Junior says he was very afraid of dying in the operating room and not seeing his daughter anymore.

But the next day when he woke up from the operation, he was given the good news that he had already urinated five liters.

"I had seven years of not being able to urinate on my own," he says.

Less than two weeks after receiving the transplant from her beloved high school friend, Antoinette, Junior confesses to feeling very good and optimistic.

"I can't work for up to two and a half months after the operation, and I have to wait up to nine months for doctors to say that the transplant was a success," he says.

But for now, Junior says he feels he was born again.

"I want to do a thousand things once I recover," he says.

June is an artist of drawing and painting. "My dream is to have my own tattoo workshop," he says.

Antonieta González shows happy the scar left by the removal of one of her kidneys to save the life of her friend Junior Vázquez Picasso. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

Myths about transplantation

Antoinette says that when she told family and friends that she was going to donate a kidney, they told her everything, that she was crazy and asked if she had a romantic relationship with Junior.

"There are many myths because the community does not have the right information," he observes.

Actually, he says, the risks are very low.

“For example, I already closed the maternity factory, but if I wanted to, I could have more children. After a donation, I would have to wait between six months and a year to get pregnant, ”he says.

“The kidney with which I stay, grows a little more trying to replace the one who has left. And if I have to be careful, but not beyond what anyone should have, ”he observes.

In an extreme case that the donor nurse and require a kidney transplant, just having been a donor would automatically go to the first place on the waiting list. "They told me that on the day of the transplant," he says.

Antonieta works as a health care coordinator. “I had a lot of support from the president of the corporation where I work when I told him what I was going to do. He knows Junior and has bought him several of his artistic works, ”he says.

Junior Vázquez Picasso shows one of his artistic creations, and says he can't wait to recover and get to work. (Aurelia Ventura / The Opinion)

This young single mother has a month off from work to recover. "I feel very good, I only have a little discomfort and pain in a little while," he says as he shows the long scar left by the donation of one of his kidneys.

“I don't have to pay him what he has done for me,” shares Junior, who recommends that the Hispanic community drink a lot of water.

"Before getting sick from the kidneys. I never drank water. I also never went to the doctor and I had very high blood pressure for a long time without knowing it.", He says.

Junior opened an account on the GoFundMe portal to help his generous donor during the recovery process and support himself financially, since as an independent multimedia artist he cannot do anything to make a living while he is recovering.

GoFundMe Portal



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