Like many 5-year-olds, Matthew Ouimet likes to pretend he’s a superhero.
“I can go faster than the Flash," he brags, as he dashes down the driveway at his family's home in Antioch.
Matthew also has a real-life hero: Brandon Burnett, who died in a car accident at age 22. Burnett saved Matthew's life by registering as an organ donor before his death in 2013.
Donor Network West has produced a heart-wrenching video about Brandon and Matthew’s story, the first in a series about organ donors and recipients getting in touch. The message is: Register to donate at DonorNetworkWest.org and you can be a hero too.
Matthew has a rare liver disease called primary hyperoxaluria and spent the first 2 years of his life waiting for an organ transplant.
At UCSF-Benioff Children's Hospital in 2013, Matthew got Brandon's kidneys and part of his liver. Now he can play soccer with his dad in the street.
"Our family and especially our son, we’re always going to know Brandon as the person he was, as the life he led, and all the people he’s touched, as a person, not just a donor," said his mother, Kristi Ouimet.
Brandon's mother, Maggie Kolb, says donating her son's organs helped her grieve.
"He had lived a very full life. But it would’ve been such a waste without the fact that his organs were able to be donated. It gave his death a higher meaning and it helps to see Matthew grow," she said.
Now she and Kristi feel like extended family who don't get to see each other in person enough, she said. But it took time.
Kristi and her husband Kelly had documented their son's rare disease online with heart-wrenching photos of their baby’s daily dialysis.
So before Maggie introduced herself to Matthew’s family as the mother of their donor, she started following the ups and downs of his medical treatments online.
Then one day, when she was ready, she called.
"I said, are you saying that my son got your son’s organs? And she said, 'Yes I am,'" Kristi Ouimet said, still choking up with gratitude and emotion, three years later.
Ouimet said that if people sign up to be organ donors, she's more than willing to let her son be the poster child for organ donation.
The Ouimet family is helping to organize a 5K walk in Walnut Creek to fund research on primary hyperoxaluria on May 7.