Donor-Recipient Reunite

Dec 27, 2018

Cal U grad Jeff Lynd donated his kidney to Kelly Sowatsky in November.

kidney donor

On Dec. 27, Jeff Lynd and Kelly Sowatsky returned to where their improbable story began — a Pittsburgh Penguins game at PPG Paints Arena.

Lynd, a 2009 graduate of Cal U, donated a kidney to Sowatsky, a complete stranger but kindred hockey fan, after she brought a sign asking for a life-saving donation to a hockey game in March and the Penguins shared her plea on social media.

“It felt like the right thing to do,” Lynd said of his decision to become a donor. “She needed something doable to help her. My blood type matched, my wife was good with it, so I said, ‘Why not?’”

The transplant surgery took place on Nov. 6 at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

They were reunited at the Dec. 27 hockey game versus the Detroit Red Wings, where they and their families were guests of honor. The day began by watching the team’s preparations at the arena.

Lynd is originally from Bethel Park, Pa., and lives in Millsboro, Del. He is a technology education teacher at Wicomico Middle School, in Maryland. He earned his bachelor’s degree in technology education from Cal U.

“My students thought it was cool,” he said of reactions to his donor experience. “I was back at school two weeks after the surgery.”

Mike Amrhein, who is retired as a technology education professor at Cal U, knew Lynd as a student and as a volunteer with the BotsIQ competition.

“Jeff was a regular volunteer working in that program under a Department of Defense grant,” Amrhein recalled.

“When I saw the news, it surprised me. I thought, ‘I know that guy!’ He’s not the kind of guy you forget.

“What he’s done with his life and career is quite an accomplishment.”