Newark, Texas

Positive since 2007

In 2013, I suffered from acute liver failure and was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant. During the three-year wait, I had to fight hard to make sure I received the care I needed. As a person living with HIV who was also in need of a lifesaving organ transplant, I had to find a care team that knew how to work with both conditions.

One physician even recommended that I didn’t need a transplant despite the recommendations of other physicians, dramatic physical decline and massive weight loss. I was determined to live.

With God’s grace, a loving husband and prayer, I made it through the darkest period of my life. My prayers were answered, and I received a liver transplant on December 6, 2016. A selfless, compassionate organ donor saved my life. I had been given a second chance at life. God had a plan for me.

Having overcome a near-death experience, I feel a responsibility to pay forward the gift I was given. I want to pour out my heart and share my experience.

Since receiving my transplant, my purpose is to educate others about the importance of organ donation and the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. I am the ambassador for Hope Act in Action and volunteer for Donate Life.

My hope is that by sharing my story and being a face for those who have received a transplant, I can highlight the opportunities and facts about donation and transplant for members of the LGBT and HIV community. The LGBT community has overcome so much, from equality to the AIDS epidemic. Education is at the heart of much of that progress and allows us to rise above myths and stigma.

Everyone deserves care, compassion and the best chance at life.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Compassionate, funny and passionate.

What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is living with HIV and having a successful liver transplant while staying undetectable. My one-year transplant anniversary was December 6, 2017.

What is your greatest regret?

My greatest regret is not staying focused on my goals.

What keeps you up at night?

I worry about others.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?

I will change the stigma of HIV and educate the LGBT community about HIV organ donation. I am living proof that you can have an organ transplant and still live a healthy long life with HIV. HIV doesn’t define us.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Keep true to yourself. Love yourself.

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?

Magic Johnson.

What drives you to do what you do?

My husband of 10 years, Chad. He has been there through it all. He was there from the time when we were both first diagnosed with HIV to me being on my deathbed with weeks to live.

What is your motto?

Stay determined and keep your faith in God.

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?

Our medications.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?

My dogs because they are spoiled.