NHL Fan Receives Life-Saving Transplant After Her Sign Goes Viral


An avid hockey fan will receive a life-saving kidney transplant after footage of her holding up a homemade sign at an NHL game went viral.

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Will Maule

Kelly Sowatsky, an avid hockey fan, will receive a life-saving kidney transplant after footage of her holding up a homemade sign at an NHL game went viral.

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In 2015, 31-year-old Sowatsky was diagnosed with a kidney infection that quickly progressed into a serious case of septicemia. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis is a “life-threatening medical emergency” and is part of body’s response to severe infection. Treatment consists of administering a high dose of antibiotics and ensuring that blood flow to essential organs is maintained.

Despite recovering from the infection, Sowatsky was left with just seven percent of her kidney function. She was placed on the transplant list, but the years rolled by without any luck. So, this year Kelly took it upon herself to push for the life-saving surgery she so desperately required.

She decided to attend a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game, lifting aloft a special sign she had made.

“I thought this was my last chance to get the attention of somebody in a really big way,” she told Good Morning America.

The sign simply read:

“Calling all hockey fans! I need a kidney! Kidney! Kidney! Gratefully yours, Kelly,” with a phone number attached.

The other side read: “Hey (Jake) Guentzel, I’d love a hockey stick but what I need is a kidney.”

Amazingly, the team noticed her plea and tweeted out a picture of Kelly holding the sign. It subsequently went viral. Her phone started ringing off the hook.

“I said what the heck, that’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened,” Sowatsky told “From that point on, my phone just never stopped ringing. It was non-stop phone calls, emails, text messages and voicemails.

“I was speechless.”

“We saw the sign in the lower bowl. We sent a social photographer down to get a photo,” said Perelman, the team’s director of new media. “We had never seen a sign like that at a game. I thought, ‘we have to help if we can.’”

“I can tell you this, we never imagined we’d help Kelly find a donor through that tweet.”

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It was this exposure that caused the picture to catch the eye of one diehard fan, Jeff Lynd, who immediately got in touch. “I saw desperation, I saw courage and I saw she needed help,” Lynd explained to GMA. “I knew that my blood type matched. I had this feeling it was something I just had to do.”

Stunningly, after the two met, it was confirmed that they were a match! Then, just two weeks ago, Sowatsky underwent the long-overdue transplant at UPMC Montefiore Hospital in the Pennsylvania city. According to doctors, it all went well and Kelly is expected to make a full recovery!

“Jeff had an excellent kidney to donate,” said Dr. Amit Tevar. “Kelly should do very well for a very, very long time with that kidney.”

“He literally saved my life,” Sowatsky said, according to “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 (Perelman) and for me loving the Penguins …”

Lynd, however, did not want to be seen as a hero. Instead, he saw this gesture of staggering kindness as something very simple indeed. “I see it as a guy helping somebody out,” he explained. “She needed help and I was able to do it. If it wasn’t me, it would have been somebody else.”

We wish her all the best!

(H/T: Good Morning America)