'One of the lucky ones': Hockey coach in need of kidney gets transplant date
Stephen Gillis, right, is pictured with donor Michael Teigan in this photo posted by Gillis on Instagram. (@stephengillis)
VANCOUVER -- A Metro Vancouver hockey coach who went public in his search for a kidney donation earlier this year will be getting his transplant in the next few months.
Stephen Gillis posted on Instagram Tuesday that he'll be receiving his new kidney on Feb. 18.
"Eighteen has always been my favourite number. It was my jersey number as a kid and now it's my transplant date!" he wrote.
The caption was under a photo of Gillis in a hospital bed with his donor standing next to them – both with matching T-shirts showing a left kidney and the date.
Gillis is a peewee hockey coach who's team appealed on his behalf nearly a year ago for a living donor.
In January, the young players used social media to ask the public to "help us help our coach."
In a one-minute video, the kids said Gillis has Crohn's disease as well as a rare form of kidney disease.
"Stephen is really sick but he doesn't let it show. He always comes to practices and games even when he wasn't feeling well," one player said.
He told CTV News he was overwhelmed by the response, and in April, announced he'd found a match who was also a willing donor.
Michael Teigan was an old friend. The pair hadn't stayed in touch, but Teigan saw the news coverage and decided to get tested.
When Teigan showed up at the hospital, Gillis thought it was a regular visit. They talked about old times, then Teigan broke the news while recording their conversation.
"I will be shining your shoes for the rest of your life or whatever else you want," Gillis said at the time.
The photo of Teigan and Gillis announcing their surgery date had been "liked" hundreds of times by Wednesday afternoon, with many adding comments expressing their well wishes and thanks to Teigan.
Gillis has said that one of the reasons he's been so public about what he's going through is that he wants people to sign up as possible donors to help others in his situation. He's also hopeful B.C. will someday move to an "opt out" system when it comes to organ donation, rather than requiring residents to opt in.
"Thank you so much for the kind words and endless support, everyone. This challenging journey has been made a lot easier by your love, kindness and support," he said.
"I am so grateful for Michael, he is truly a hero. I hope he is an example to everyone that one selfless act can change the world or save a life for another. I ask you all to consider being organ donors as well. I am one of the lucky ones. There are many who are still waiting for their Michael."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim