Peewee hockey team's plea for kidney donor gets help from Canucks
Days after a young Vancouver hockey team went viral with a touching video aimed at finding a living kidney donor for their coach, their story has captured the attention of the big league.
The players of Vancouver Minor Hockey Association's Peewee A2 team, the Spirit, posted a one-minute video on their Instagram account last week, revealing their coach, Stephen Gillis, has Crohn's disease and found out last summer that he also has 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 isn't feeling well," one player said in the video.
One week and more than 375,000 views later, the Vancouver Canucks came calling.
"They got in touch during the week and said, 'Hey, we want to invite you guys out and we're going to give you two suites and an interview during the game," Gillis told CTV News.
But the video has done more than just make the young players social media sensations.
"I spoke to the transplant clinic last week to just kind of see—the video's going viral, but is anyone actually calling? My understanding is that they're completely overwhelmed," Gillis said.
The video has generated thousands of calls and inquiries from across Canada.
"We know more and more people are getting their news and their information from social media and when something resonates within the public, it can have a profound effect," said Edward.
"The more and more people register and the more and more people think about living donation. It'll help anyone waiting for a kidney transplant."
Gillis said if all the attention doesn't end up helping him, it can save others.
"If you're not a match for me—me being an O Negative, more of a rare one—you may be a match for someone else," he said.
If nothing else, the video has raised awareness, but Gillis and his players hope it does more than that.
"All this positivity has to go somewhere and hopefully it's in my pelvis where the new kidney will go," he said.
Anyone interested in getting tested to donate is asked to call a transplant coordinator at 1-855-875-5182.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson