Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk needs an urgent liver transplant or he might die, according to team doctor Don Chow, so the team is appealing to the public for help in finding a donor.

The team says Melnyk, who turns 56 on May 27, has battled major health issues since January and was admitted to hospital three weeks ago.

His family has actively reached out to his close friends and broader family with the hope of identifying someone who could be a "live liver donor," but so far nobody has been a match.

Team officials said Friday the response has been very good as they have received more than 1,000 calls and numerous applications sent to the Donor Transplant Team in Toronto.

A liver transplant involves the removal of a portion of the living donor's liver so it can be transplanted into the recipient patient.

Eugene Melnyk

Eugene Melnyk, the Ottawa Senators owner, was recovering after undergoing a successful liver transplant at Toronto General Hospital. (CBC)

"This is life-threatening without a new liver," Chow said at a news conference on Thursday.

Team president Cyril Leeder said Melnyk would remain in hospital until a new liver is found.

Potential donors urged to call, fill out form

The team said Melnyk has undergone a comprehensive medical assessment at the Toronto General Hospital, which determined his need for a new liver.

Melnyk is on the donor list but Leeder said he is not jumping the queue. He did admit Melnyk has a stronger platform to make a public plea.


Potential donors can call 613-599-0100 until 9 p.m. ET on Thursday or any time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, the Senators said.

Any potential donors are asked to fill out a form and fax it to Toronto General Hospital's Living Donor Assessment Office at 416-340-4317, the Senators said. That includes any healthy adult between 18 and 55 years old.

This is the third major health concern within the organization over the past several months. General manager Bryan Murray is currently battling stage 4 colon cancer and former assistant coach Mark Reeds died last month from inoperable cancer.