'We're a match': Vancouver hockey coach to receive life-saving gift
Published Sunday, April 7, 2019 3:51PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 7, 2019 6:33PM PDT
Stephen Gillis was on the brink of death just last month after undergoing a major surgery while still waiting for a kidney donor.
Now he's learned he will be given a life-saving gift after an old friend, whom he hadn't seen in about a decade, revealed he's a match.
"I'm very lucky, so grateful," Gillis told CTV News. "It’s the most selfless, kind piece of generosity I’ve ever seen from a human being."
Gillis and Michael Teigen met years ago when they worked for the Vancouver TheatreSports League, an improv company.
They hadn't stayed in touch but Teigen learned of Gillis' health issues through news stories thanks to a viral video.
Gillis coaches the Spirit, a Vancouver Minor Hockey Association Peewee team, which made a heartfelt plea for a donor in a video that's now been seen by hundreds of thousands.
It inspired Teigen to get tested to find out if he could be a match and potentially save Gillis' life.
After two months of testing, he learned they are compatible for the transplant. And the news came at the perfect time.
Gillis had his colon removed because doctors didn't want to run the risk of the organ attacking the kidney should there be a transplant.
After the surgery, he lost a lot of blood and almost died.
He's been at Vancouver General Hospital for the past few weeks and didn't think anything was out-of-the-ordinary when Teigen decided to visit.
Teigen walked into the hospital room while recording the entire interaction.
The pair reminisced about how long it has been since they've seen each other, before Teigen shared the news.
"We wanted to tell you that I'm your guy. We're a match. I'm going to give you my kidney," Teigen said in the video.
It clearly did not sink in right away.
"Crazy. You're a match? Like, same blood type?" Gillis questioned in a daze.
Once Teigen clarified that he's gone through testing and they are compatible for the transplant, Gillis was overcome with emotions.
"Why? You're insane. Like, I will be shining your shoes for the rest of your life or whatever else you want."
Gillis has since been released from hospital and is recovering from home.
On Sunday, he wore his Green Shirt Day attire, still in disbelief that a transplant is now in the works.
"All this attention has been a gift and I only want to use it to help others," he said. "There are lots of people like me, good people that need organs that need their lives saved."
In honour of Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet, April 7 is Green Shirt Day, to inspire people to register as organ donors.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim