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This is the best day of my life

Kidney transplant recipient and donor invited to Pens game, morning skate

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

"I think this is the best day of my life," said Kelly Sowatsky, standing inside the Penguins locker room minutes after receiving a stick from her favorite player Jake Guentzel. 

The day's events were the culmination of an unthinkable journey from a year ago. Sowatsky attended a Penguins game fashioning a sign that read: "Hey Guentzel, I'd love a hockey stick but what I really need is a kidney."

Sowatsky's sign went viral thanks to a posting by the Penguins' official Twitter account and because of the tweet a donor, and fellow Penguins fan, Jeff Lynd was found. On Nov. 6 Sowatsky received her new kidney. 

And, thanks to the Penguins, she received the other half of her request on Thursday - hand-delivered by Guentzel himself. 

"I'm really happy that I'm healthy enough to be here," Sowatsky said through tears. "I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people. I got everything I wanted for Christmas. I got a new kidney. I have my life back. This was the icing on the cake. It was a really rough, but amazing year. I'm overwhelmed." 

Video: Transplant recipient and donor attend morning skate

Sowatsky, Lynd and their families were invited to attend the team's morning skate. That was followed by a surprise visit to the locker room and a special meeting with Guetnzel and a few other players. The day finished with seats in a suite to watch that night's game against Detroit. 

"I think I died and went to heaven," Sowatsky said as Guentzel was signing the back of her jersey, No. 59 of course. 

"This is the coolest day of my life," Sowatsky said. "I can't wrap my head around what's going on right now and what happened. I'm way past Could 9. I don't know what comes next. This is truly a day that I'll never forget."

Sowatsky, her fiancé Tyler Hart and Lynd also met team captain Sidney Crosby. 

"I always wanted to meet Sid," Lynd said. "I got a locker room picture. I'll hang it up in my game room."

Hart invited Crosby to the couple's wedding in May, but added: "Hopefully you'll be too busy."

After the group left the locker room, Sowatsky gripped her new stick tightly, adding, "I'm never letting go." She even did a round of media interviews with the stick in her hand. 

"I don't think I stopped smiling, other than when I started crying a little bit," she said. "These guys do stuff like this all the time, but I hope they understand what it meant to me to be able to be here. What this organization did for me is something that I can never repay, something that I can never express how grateful I am. 

"It just started with a simple tweet, and here we are."

Read more about Kelly and Jeff's story here

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