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Penguins fan brings sign to game seeking kidney for her dad

Ashley Pritchard went viral thanks to photo team account shared Thursday

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / NHL.com Staff Writer

Ashley Pritchard is hoping the Pittsburgh Penguins go 2 for 2 in finding kidneys for their fans.

The Penguins supporter went viral after the team shared a sign she brought seeking a kidney for her father David at their game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

"We're just astonished," Ashley Pritchard told NHL.com. "My dad said 'I can't believe there are so many people who don't even know us who want to help us find a kidney for me.'"

Pritchard's sign said "Santa, please bring my dad a new kidney" with David's phone number. The idea for a sign was motivated by the story of fellow Penguins fan Kelly Sowatsky, who successfully found a kidney by bringing a sign to a Penguins game in April. She received a transplant in October

Like Sowatsky's, Pritchard's sign went viral, thanks to the Penguins Twitter account, which shared a photo of it after the game. Jeffrey Lynd, who donated his kidney to Sowatsky, also reached out to the Pritchards and has been sharing David's story to fellow Penguins fans.

Tweet from @penguins: Penguins fan: Seeking holiday miracle.We've found a donor before... Can we find another hero to make this fan's Christmas wish come true? pic.twitter.com/hB3lURZk6j

"He's actually been of great help to us," Ashley said of Martin."He wants to meet us next week, and my dad is actually going to get a chance to meet him, which is pretty awesome."

David, 58, has already had one kidney transplant and successfully warded off IGA Neuropathy and a C. diff emergency, plus tongue-and-tonsil cancer and thyroid cancer. In May he was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney failure and has been going through dialysis three days per week.

"We think with all the chemo and radiation did a lot on the first kidney," Ashley said. "We're just trying to find a match and someone who can donate a kidney to him."

The Pritchards are diehard Pittsburgh sports fans from the suburb of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, and David said Evgeni Malkin is his favorite player. Ashley is a senior at West Virginia University, home for the holiday break, and has had a difficult time being 90 miles from her ailing dad.

"It stunk because I knew I couldn't help because I wasn't around," Ashley said.

Thanks to the Penguins' shared post, and more than 3,000 shares of Ashley's post on Facebook, David had received more than 40 text messages, plus other messages and calls inquiring about how they can donate. 

"I just can't believe that people who don't know me are willing to come forward to donate," David told NHL.com. "Never in a million years would I guess that this would've exploded like this. 

"Just to know that there are good people out there willing to do things like this is amazing."

David is a positive person by nature, and this experience has done nothing to strain that.

"I've gone through two bouts of cancer, that C. diff and almost died," David said, "somebody wants me around."

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