The anonymous person who acted as a live liver donor to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk was motivated in part by a desire to see the Stanley Cup return home, a transplant surgeon said at a news conference in Toronto on Thursday.
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Surgeons said more than 500 potential donors stepped forward after the Ottawa Senators issued a public appeal for a live liver donor on Thursday as Melnyk's health deteriorated.
"Many lives will be saved as a result of this appeal, and we as a community should be very proud of these heroic, caring individuals," said Dr. David Grant, of the University Health Network's multi-organ transplant team in Toronto.
Many lives will be saved as a resultof this appeal.- Dr. David Grant
He added that the donor, who wants to remain anonymous to the public and Melnyk, asked him to share a message.
"The donor has asked me to tell you that the motivation to do this is to help Mr. Melnyk return to good health, to enjoy his family and friends, and most importantly to bring the Stanley Cup home to the Ottawa Senators," he said. "The donor hopes that others will be inspired by this story and will also consider organ donation."
Grant said there are 1,500 people in Ontario waiting for a life-saving transplant at a time when there is a major shortage.
"Every day, one in three people who are waiting for a transplant in Ontario will die because a donor organ does not become available in time," he said.
Anonymous donor 'true hero'
Surgeons said they removed 70 per cent of the anonymous donor's liver, which is expected to regenerate to a normal size within six weeks. The donor is expected to return home from the hospital five to nine days after the surgery, and be back to work in three to six months.
Melnyk's family issued a statement to thank the surgeons — as well as the anonymous donor.
"You are an incredible person and we truly admire your unselfish act of kindness and courage to be a living liver donor. We are so grateful to you and to your support system of family and close friends who have helped you take this brave journey to save Eugene's life. You remain in our thoughts and prayers as we wish you a speedy and full recovery."
You are an incredible person and we truly admire yourunselfish act of kindness.- Melnyk family statement
Ottawa Senators president and CEO Cyril Leeder said the team will focus on promoting organ donation in the years to come.
Melnyk was put on a deceased donor organ list "several weeks ago" when it was determined he was "in urgent need," said Dr. Atul Humar, of University Health Network's multi-organ transplant team in Toronto.
Doctors would not comment on what condition led Melnyk to require a liver transplant.
The living donation option is open to all patients, as it reduces the chances a patient will die while on the deceased donor list, Humar said.
After Melnyk's friends and family members were tested and found not to be suitable matches, he "reluctantly decided" to make a public appeal through the Ottawa Senators, Humar said.
The anonymous donor is a "true hero that only wishes the very best for Mr. Melnyk," Humar said.