By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a day to remember for a handful of strangers who now share a special bond.

Five Minnesota kidney donors and recipients met for the first time Friday morning.

It’s not every day a 28 year old from St. Paul and a 5 year old from the Iron Range become pals. But for Fernando Cornejo and Charlie Benda, it was inevitable.

Cornejo gave young Benda something he desperately needed – a new kidney.

“To meet someone who could selflessly give up a piece of their body to my son to help him grow become stronger, and as I was telling Fernando, it’s beyond words how grateful we are,” said Josh Benda, Charlie Benda’s dad.

Cornejo originally hoped to donate a kidney to his mom, but they weren’t a match.

But thankfully, his mother’s story has a happy ending too.

Cornejo’s mom Teresa found her perfect match in a nurse from Lakeville.

A selfless act from Charlie Benda’s great-aunt, Jennifer Beauregard, started the domino effect of donations.

For Charlie Benda, who just had his birthday this week, he has a new lease on life, and can run into his future full speed ahead.

The matches were made by doctors at the University of Minnesota, who have the most advanced DNA sequencing technology in the world for it.

For 3,000 people in Minnesota, they are still on the list for a transplant.

For more information about donating, click here.

Liz Collin