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Hockey coach getting life-saving surgery thanks to friend's kidney donation
VANCOUVER -- Feb. 19 update: The surgery was a success, and both men are recovering.
It began as a desperate plea from a team of young hockey players to find a kidney donor for their beloved coach.
Their appeal to the public worked, and now, more than a year later, Stephen Gillis will have life-changing surgery.
The kidney transplant is scheduled for Tuesday, and it's a procedure the donor says will be a gift to himself as well.
Jokingly, Michael Teigen popped his head through a curtain Monday and told his friend, "Stephen, hi! I've changed my mind."
On the eve of their kidney transplant surgery, he and Gillis were making each other laugh.
Gillis spent Family Day in hospital, receiving his last dialysis treatment before Teigen's left kidney becomes his left kidney.
While not good with needles, they say they've heard there's only one, "and the rest of it is just smooth sailing."
The last year hasn't been smooth sailing for Gillis. He's been in and out of hospital, when he'd rather have been on the ice.
He's had to take a short break from coaching atom-level hockey, and hasn't been able to play with his competitive team for the last year.
It was his former Vancouver Minor Hockey Association peewee team that was behind a heartfelt plea that went viral.
It was that plea that attracted Teigen's attention. The pair are old friends, but hadn't seen much of each other in the last decade.
But when he heard Gillis needed help, Teigen didn't hesitate.
He found out he was a match, and shared the news with his friend in a surprise caught on camera.
"It's a privilege to have someone do this for you, and just… It's a lot to take in," Gillis said.
Teigen describes himself as a helper, and while he acknowledges a surgery is much different from, say, changing a tire, he still agreed to the procedure.
Gillis calls him his hero.
"It's just an honour. It's unbelievable and I feel there's no better way to repay that than to live the best life," Gillis said.
"Do I have to do that?" Teigen joked, faking alarm.
"No, just gravy with every meal," Gillis said.
Watch the moment Gillis learned he'd get a donor, and read more on Gillis's story in this article from April 2019.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim