Donor for B.C. hockey coach whose young team launched video search for a kidney - InfoNews

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Donor for B.C. hockey coach whose young team launched video search for a kidney

Vancouver minor hockey coach Stephen Gillis is seen in an undated handout photo. Gillis has taken to social media to confirm his search for a life-saving organ donor has been successful.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Lindsay Kelly *MANDATORY CREDIT*
April 08, 2019 - 11:27 AM

VANCOUVER - The coach of a Vancouver peewee hockey team has successfully ended his search for a life-saving organ donor.

However, Stephen Gillis said his drive to build organ donor awareness is just beginning.

"My purpose now has to be to help others," said Gillis in an interview Monday.

Gillis learned last week his former work colleague Michael Teigen was a match and would be donating one of his kidneys. Teigen saw a viral video posted by young members of the Spirit hockey team asking for help for their ailing coach.

"He is going to be my brother and I am indebted to him for the rest of his life," said Gillis.

"I'll shine his shoes, mow his lawn, shovel his driveway, be his mover, whatever he needs," he joked.

The 38-year-old also met recently with the parents of Logan Boulet, the late Humboldt Broncos player whose donated organs saved six other lives, and said the Boulet's work to create Green Shirt Day in support of organ donor awareness inspired his own plans.

"I do hope to work with others ... to try to replicate what my home province of Nova Scotia recently did to change the legislation to make everyone opt in to the donor program."

We need to change the legislation, not only in B.C., but across Canada," he said.

"You have to find purpose in your struggle, and my purpose now is to make sure that I help as many people as I can," Gillis said, his voice — already raspy due to a breathing tube required during his latest surgery — choked with emotion.

He has made plans run a half marathon with Teigen, whom he met when the two worked at Vancouver Theatre Sports about a decade ago.

Gillis suffers from Crohn's disease and complications from that caused his kidneys to shut down, while awaiting a kidney match, his bowel was removed.

It was during his rocky recovery from the surgery that he received the surprise visit from Teigen and learned of the match.

Gillis must remain on dialysis several times a week while awaiting the transplant, expected sometime in the next three or four months.

"I'm just so grateful and lucky that my purpose has to be to help others," he said.

The donor match is entirely due to the work of the 11- and 12-year-old players on his Vancouver Minor Hockey team, Gillis said.

The team created a video about their coach's plight, racking up thousands of social-media views and gaining national attention.

"That's another thing I hope they learn through all of this," Gillis said of his team. "You're not fragile ... and you have to push yourself and ask more of yourself, always, to truly become a champion."

Gillis has plans to be back on the ice with the peewee A2 team this fall.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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