VANCOUVER — The coach of a Vancouver peewee hockey team says his search for a life-saving organ donor has been successful.
Stephen Gillis has posted a video on his Twitter and Facebook accounts of the moment a friend confirms he is a perfect match and will donate a kidney to the longtime minor hockey coach.
Gillis says he wanted to make the announcement on Green Shirt Day, an event created by the parents of the late Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet, whose donated organs saved six other lives.
In the post, Gillis tearfully embraces Michael Teigen, who learned of Gillis’ plight and took the steps to determine his kidney would be a match.
Gillis’ peewee team launched a video search for a living kidney donor after being told their coach’s battle with Crohn’s disease had caused his kidneys to shut down.
The video by the 11- and 12-year-old players racked up thousands of views and gained national attention.
Gillis says he is “still trying to process (Teigen’s) selflessness and generosity.”
The transplant should be happening in the next three to four months.
“He is going to be my brother. I’m indebted to him for the rest of my life. I’ll help him shine his shoes, mow his lawn, shovel his driveway — whatever he needs, for the rest of his life,” Gillis said.
“I am hoping now we can use this story to sign up people to become organ (donors) and save the lives of others,” he says in an email.
Gillis has suffered from Crohn’s disease since the age of 25 but led a very active lifestyle until last summer when he said he started “feeling a bit weird,” and doctors gave him a troubling diagnosis.
“They let me know that my blood was basically vinegar and that it wasn’t being cleaned for a while,” he said in an interview in January.
Since then, Gillis has required dialysis to clean his blood and also underwent major surgery to have his diseased colon removed.
It was during his recovery from that surgery that he received the visit from Teigen and learned of the upcoming donation.
Gillis says his journey has been full of valuable life lessons “You always have to find purpose in your struggle. My purpose is to make sure that I help as many people as I can.”