‘Share your spare:’ Kidney transplant recipient throws 1st pitch with donor that helped save his life

Lenny Zwieg

MILWAUKEE -- Almost a year to the day a Walworth County man stepped into Miller Park, looking for help finding a kidney donor, he was back at the ballpark Sunday, April 7 to throw out the first pitch alongside the donor that helped save his life.

Lenny Zwieg got the biggest win in 2018 -- desperately in need of a kidney. Because of baseball, it happened.

Before any big game there are some jitters. Zwieg said he never thought he'd be standing on the field at Miller Park.

Lenny Zwieg

"Not in a million years. It's a boyhood dream come true. I'm pretty nervous, but this awesome nervous," said Zwieg.

A year prior, he stepped into the ballpark looking for a big win.

Lenny Zwieg

Lenny Zwieg

Lenny Zwieg

Emily Nowak

"I was here with my 'share your spare' shirt, with my name on the back," said Zwieg.

He was sick, and desperately needed a new kidney. His shirt caught the eye of another fan, who snapped a photo. It was shared on social media and went viral.

"I logged into Facebook one day and that was the first thing that came up," said Emily Nowak.

Nowak saw the post and decided to help. While she was a match, her kidney wasn't the right size. Nowak and Zwieg entered the National Kidney Register as a pair. Zwieg got a kidney from a donor in Pittsburgh. Nowak's kidney went to another recipient.

Lenny Zwieg and Emily Nowak

"It's hard to put into words. She knows that she's part of the family now," said Zwieg.

Lenny Zwieg and Emily Nowak

Lenny Zwieg and Emily Nowak

On Sunday, they came together to throw out the first pitch -- side by side.

April is Donate Life Month. Zwieg and Nowak said they want their story to inspire others to become organ donors.

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