Hockey fan receives life-saving kidney transplant after homemade sign at NHL game goes viral

Edduin Carvajal
Nov 22, 2018
05:11 P.M.

Kelly Sowatsky, a 31-year-old woman from Pittsburgh, used the large audience of a hockey game to her advantage as she asked for a kidney transplant.


Using nothing but a sign, Sowatsky wrote, “Calling all hockey fans! I need a kidney! Kidney! Kidney! Gratefully yours, Kelly,” followed by her phone number. Fortunately, the sign went viral, and she found help.

As People reported, she was diagnosed with an infection that became septicemia in 2015. Her kidney was left at only seven percent of its normal function. Even though she was placed on a donor list, the clock was ticking.



Sowatsky finally realized that she had to take matters into her hands, so she made the sign and attended a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. The team’s Twitter account shared her photo, and things kept improving for her after that.


One of the people who ran into the post was Jeff Lynd, a hockey fan from Delaware. In an interview he had with "Good Morning America," he revealed that the image showed desperation, courage, and Sowatsky’s necessity.


Knowing that his blood type matched with hers and having the feeling that it was something he had to do, Lynd reached out to her. Earlier this month, they went to the UPMC Montefiore Hospital in the Pennsylvania city and underwent the transplant surgery.



“He literally saved my life. And the doctors, too. If you trickle it down, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the reason my life is being saved, too. If it weren’t for (Andi Perelman, director of news media for the Penguins) and for me loving the Penguins,” said Sowatsky.


Even though Lynd’s selfless act is one of a kind, he said he didn’t consider it was a big deal. “She needed help, and I was able to do it. If it wasn’t me, it would have been somebody else,” added the man.



Sowatsky is not the only person who found help in a stranger. Two-year-old Emily Smith had cancer and needed a liver transplant to survive. Thankfully, 30-year-old Joseph Osborn heard her story and reached out her family to help.


Dr. Armando Ganoza, a liver transplant surgeon at the UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, revealed that Emily had gone through five rounds of chemotherapy that had done little-to-nothing to her tumor, so the only chance she had was getting a new liver.


Heather Smith, Emily’s mother, said she had no words to describe what Joseph had done for her daughter, and that just thinking about it “gives you chills. That was a huge surgery that he undertook for a complete stranger,” added Heather.

Dr. Ganoza finally admitted that Emily is expected to live a perfectly normal life thanks to Joseph's donation of part of his liver now that her cancer is in remission.

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