SAN FRANCISCO -- Two California siblings got the kidney transplants they so desperately needed, and each got those new kidneys within 24 hours of one another. Their surgeon saying this was the first time in his more than two decades of work that he performed separate transplant surgeries on siblings like that.
Matthew Ouimet, 11, and Carswell Ouimet, 19, are siblings who both have a rare genetic condition called hyperoxaluria. Because of that, both were in dire need of a new kidney until recently.
"We're finishing up dialysis and the doctor leans his head in with the phone pressed up against his ear and he very casually at the drop of the hat goes, 'Hey, do you want a kidney?' and I completely froze!" said Carswell.
After two years of dialysis treatment every other day, a kidney was now being offered to Carswell at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco.
"I go what??? 'Do you want a kidney?' I said ya ya I'll take it and dad was on the other side of the room," said Carswell.
"I was sure that the heart rate was wrong or another hour of dialysis or another shot injected, so I walked over and got this news and disbelief. Not really sure what I was feeling, all the emotions were coming at one time," said Carswell's dad Kelly Ouimet.
"He said, 'What's going on? Are you in pain? Is something wrong?' I go, I just got a kidney offer and I think we had the same look of, 'Oh my God.' It was definitely like an hour and a half of celebration like 'oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,'" said Carswell.
But as exciting as that news was, it soon got even better for the siblings from Antioch.
"I'm half waking up from sleeping and being admitted and hear her saying, 'It's happening, it's happening' and I almost glanced over and said what cause I didn't understand anything, but then the gears in my head started turning and I immediately got an adrenaline rush," says Matthew.
A rush because another kidney had become available for the 11-year-old hours after Carswell's surgery.
"I went upstairs and talked to their parents and said, 'Why don't you bring Matthew in so that he doesn't get jealous that his sibling got a transplant, he is gonna get one, too.'" said UCSF's Dr. Ryutaro Hirose.
In fact, Carswell was still recovering from their transplant when things began moving quickly for Matthew.
"I left Carswell's room, went down to Matthew's room, and the transport unit was already there so I opened the door and yelled at them, 'It's happening get up,'" said Matthew & Carswell's mother Kristi Ouimet.
Then, a priceless moment.
"I love you!," they said to each other.
Sibling yelling messages of love to one another as Matthew was taken to surgery.
Dr. Hirose, who is a transplant surgeon at UCSF, says that in the nearly 2,000 transplants he has performed, he has never given two new kidneys to two siblings within a 24-hour period, in this case from April 9 to April 10. The kidneys here coming from deceased individuals in both the Bay Area and Sacramento area who chose to be donors.
"I really do wish people understood that you're saving lives. That is by no means an exaggeration, you are changing the fate of at least eight people with every part that is donated. You're allowing me to go to college, to my passions, to my play and my friends," said Carswell.
"I'm able to walk pretty well, I'm basically able to be a kid, just careful. I'm very thankful for everyone who tries to donate cause if their life is cut short, at least they can make another life last longer," said Matthew.
Dr. Hirose says, "So far, so good" as Matthew and Carswell's kidneys are functioning well with a hope that they'll continue to do so for as long as possible.
You can learn more about becoming an organ donor in California here.