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Brewers fan who found kidney donor through social media post throws first pitch

Posted at 10:36 PM, Apr 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-07 23:39:38-04

MILWAUKEE -- For one Brewers fan, a game last year saved his life. Sunday that fan was back with a special role.

Lenny Zwieg and Emily Nowak never thought their journey would get them on the field at Miller Park.

“My hearts going about a million miles and hour, ” Zwieg said.

November 2018 Nowak donated a kidney to Zwieg, at the time the two were strangers.

Sunday, as part of Donate a Life Month the pair were able to Throw the first pitch before the Brewer’s game against the Cubs. Along with the team that saved Lenny’s life, two surgeons from Aurora Health Care.

It all started last summer, when Zwieg came to a Brewer’s game wearing wearing this shirt saying “share your spare”. The father of three was in dire need of a kidney. Someone snapped a picture and put it on socks media. The image went viral.

Zwieg never thought the picture would change his life.

“It was an uphill battle the whole way at the point we had the shirts it wasn’t a lot of hope,” Zwieg said.

That would soon change, a second grade teacher Emily Nowak, had decided to help a stranger as a part of a bucket list.

“It could’ve been any way or form but this is what I decided to do,” said Nowak.

Nowak contacted the donation number, got tested and was a match.

“There’s no way I would have though anything like this would’ve resulted from what we went through,” said Zwieg.

Dr. Ajay Sahajpal is a surgeon and performed the transplant. Sahajpal also caught the the ball during Sunday’s first pitch.

”This is a pretty unique story. I’ve not come across one like this where it all came from baseball and the passion for the game and the passion for life,” said Sahajpal.

Before the game, the Brewer’s showed Zwieg’s backstory and his journey to getting the donation. The crowed cheered as Zwieg and Nowak stepped onto the field.

“It was a dream come true, a childhood dream,” said Zwieg.

The first pitch was part of an effort to raise awareness of National Donate Life Month. For more information about the month or to learn how you can be a living donor, visit DonateLife.Net.