Both were in a hospital ward fighting to save their young sons. Dominik Lawson of Taconite, Minn., was born with defective kidneys and needed a transplant.
By the age of 2 he was spending five days a week in a Minneapolis hospital undergoing dialysis. To complicate the donor process, his body made antibodies that made him a match for only 3 percent of the population.
Meanwhile then 9-year-old Evan Cousineau was being treated for a rare genetic disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.
The families met at the nearby Ronald McDonald House, and would greet each other until the Cousineau family tragically had to return home. Evan lost his battle in November of 2007.
Upon watching an ABC News story about Dominik from their California home, the grieving Cousineau family decided they would try to spare the Lawson's from their current grief.
Evan's mother, Mary Cousineau, decided she would volunteer to be tested.
"Honestly, I just knew that he needed a kidney and without it he might not make it," Mary Cousineau told ABC News. "And I couldn't imagine another family going through what we were going through."
Sure enough, after a few more months of reflection Mary Cousineau affirmed that she wanted to be Dominik's donor. She was tested, and despite the odds, Mary was a good match for Dominik.
In a six-hour operation, on May 21, 2008, Mary Cousineau successfully gave Dominik Lawson the kidney he needed.
"Of course, we say thank you, and we love you," Dominik's mother Kelly Lawson, told ABC News. "But I don't think you can ever express the emotion and the gratefulness that we truly feel. There are no words. It's a blessing every minute I look at him."
ABC News's John McKenzie Contributed to this report.
Just a handful of people in the world have undergone the total face transplant procedure James Maki did on April 9 of this year.
Maki is now even more of a novelty, since he has met the family of his donor, Joseph Helfgot who died undergoing a heart transplant.
In 2005 Maki fell onto electrified third rail of a Boston subway. He barely survived, but was badly burned and horribly disfigured.
Maki was unable to eat solid foods and suffered unbearable cruelty from onlookers, until he received the generous gift from Helfgot.
Maki's surgery was led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of the burn center at Boston's Brigham and Women's hospital.
When Helfgot's wife, Susan Whitman, met with Maki, she saw a trace of her husband.
"My husband had a very nice, Jewish nose. It's ... his, as you can see from the picture," Whitman said.
Whitman said that she will be happy when Maki can smile again.
"I'd like to be able to smile again, too." Maki said.
Maki's face is still numb, but he has hope.
"I can feel it coming back now," Maki said. "That's a long, long process. But I'm sure I'll get there."
Maki says he will become a donor after his experience.
"I would like to die knowing that some part of me is going to be used in a donation, to give somebody else a second chance, like I got one," he said. "You just pass it on."
ABC News' Margaret Aro and Brandy Zadrozny contributed to this report.
Many people think of Starbucks as a lifesaver. For Annamarie Ausnes, her coffee habit turned out to really be just that.