Toddler transplant recipient Matthew Ouimet stars in DMV campaign for organ donation

EAST BAY TIMES | Gary Peterson
Kristi and Matthew, 6, Ouimet pose for a portrait at Markley Creek Park in Antioch, Calif., on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Matthew wears a button with the photo of Brandon, the 22-year-old donor that gave Matthew a liver and kidney after being critically injured in a car accident. The Ouimet family have become big supporters of the donor program and a photo of Matthew hangs at the Concord DMV to promote the donor program. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
It’s a chilly morning in Pittsburg. The long line of people outside the DMV snakes around the corner of the building. Eyes are vacant. Expressions are grim.

Then there is the Ouimet family of Antioch, dressed up and exulting as if it’s a holiday. Which to them it is. They have been invited to address the employees regarding a new DMV campaign in which banners picturing people who have received donated organs will be hung in DMV offices all over California. Four organ recipients will be featured, one of them 6-year-old Matthew Ouimet.

“We were at the state capital in April, and I had somebody from Southern California come up and say, ‘I just have to meet this guy from the banner,’ ” said Matthew’s mother, Kristi Ouimet. “I’m like, ‘Banner? What are you talking about?’ I had no idea. He showed me a picture, and it blew my mind. I reached out to the people at Donor Network West and they said they are getting the banners and they’re starting to go up here in Northern California.”

I first met Matthew in 2012 when he was not yet 2. He already had lived a lot of life. At four months old he experienced renal failure. So dire was his predicament, his parents, Kelly and Kristi, had him baptized at the emergency room. After he was stabilized, he was placed on six-days-a-week dialysis at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco — a 94-mile round trip from the Ouimets’ home. Continue reading

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