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Chris Kmetz, who loved Superman, and his son Dexter. Photo courtesy Jackie Kmetz.
A father who spent his life admiring Superman had his own superhero moment recently — although it came just after his death, when he saved two lives by donating his kidneys.
Chris Kmetz, a 41-year-old Washington father of two, went on life support on Feb. 23, after his car flipped into a drainage pond. When doctors told his wife, Jackie Kmetz, that her husband wouldn’t make it, she changed him into a “Superdad” shirt and put their two kids, 2-year-old Madelyn and 4-year-old Dexter, in their own Superman tees to say goodbye. Chris died on Feb. 28.
"During his childhood, Chris was introduced to comics, and Superman became his first love," Jackie tells Yahoo Parenting. "Of all the superheroes, Superman was the humble one. He didn’t want the spotlight, he wanted justice and to take care of others. He took on a mission of making the world a better place and Chris always connected with that." Jackie says Chris kept over 10,000 comics in their bedroom and dressed as Superman every Halloween, and even sent videos telling superhero stories to his kids when he couldn’t be home to put them to bed.
Jackie says her husband wasn’t unlike Clark Kent. “The physical resemblance alone – he was 6-4 and had that same dark hair. When I first met him, he very much looked like the Christopher Reeve Superman, with the big goofy smile. He had the goofiness of Clark Kent and the heart of Superman,” Jackie says. “He embodied so much of his hero, inside and out.”
Before his death, Chris was passionate about organ donation, Jackie says. In fact, one of their first conversations was about the fact that they were both donors. “It was very evident in the first few hours after Chris’s accident that the damage to his brain was very significant, so as soon as it hit me, I talked to the doctors about organ donation because that was something very important to Chris,”Jackie says.
Not all registered donors are able to save lives — only one percent of hospital deaths meet the criteria for organ donation, according to Donate Life California— but Chris was one of them.
Jackie says their children don’t yet know about their father’s last act of kindness, but eventually she will share his incredible action. “I’ll make copies of the videos and news stories so we can see how heroic he was,” she says. “But they’ve always thought he was a hero.”