A stranger’s act of kindness miraculously saved a child several decades ago – and now, that child has gone on to repay that kind act many times over.

For 70-year-old Janis Martinez, the greatest gift she ever received came from a total stranger – and it happened just after the worst trauma of her life.

When she was just 2 years old, Martinez got ahold of a match and accidentally set herself on fire. Her mother and a neighbor quickly put out the flames and took her to the hospital, already in dire condition.

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According to the video below, Martinez says she had suffered third-degree burns across 65% of her body. Most of the rest of her body was second-degree burns. Doctors told Martinez’s mother that the little girl would need a miracle to survive.

That miracle came in the form of a truck driver from New Jersey. He heard an announcement over the radio that a girl had been hurt and needed blood donations immediately. He stopped his route and drove to the hospital where he didn’t just give blood – he also donated his skin.

“[Skin donation] is a dreadful process. Very, very painful,” Martinez recalls.

The trucker’s donations allowed the young child to stabilize, but it was still weeks before she was able to go home. When she did, the prognosis wasn’t good. Doctors said that she would have brain damage, she would never live a normal life, and she would never bear children.

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While it did require many surgeries in order to recover from the burns she suffered at a young age, Martinez is now 70 years old. She has children and grandchildren. She also ran a successful executive search firm for decades, and was able to retire so she could spend more time volunteering.

Throughout her life, she never stopped thinking about what that stranger did for her, and she has never stopped trying to pay back the deed. She became a volunteer, and eventually a board member, for the American Red Cross. She also became passionate about giving blood; to date, she has donated 129 pints  – or more than 16 gallons.


“Because I want to save a 2-year-old baby,” Martinez says.

(WATCH the video interview below)

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