The Ottawa Senators held a news conference with team president Cyril Leeder, Dr. Don Chow and Gary O’Byrne, regional manager of the Canadian Liver Foundation, to address the health issues surrounding team owner Eugene Melnyk.
You can watch the complete press conference above and we've transcribed Cyril Leeder's opening statement here...
About 90 minutes ago, the hockey club released a statement about the health of our owner Eugene Melnyk. We just went through one of the most exciting and thrilling periods of our franchise these past few months and during that time a number of fans and our extended Senators family commented that Eugene, who's our biggest cheerleader and fan, was noticeably absent during that period.
Today, we're sharing the news with the hockey community and our fans that the reason for his absence was that Mr. Melnyk has been ill and has been dealing with major health issues since mid-January. Since then, his medical care and treatment has been the sole focus for him and his family and he was admitted to hospital three weeks ago in Toronto at the Toronto General as a result of the onset of liver-related complications. He's undergone a comprehensive medical assessment and it has been determined that Mr. Melnyk is in urgent need of a liver transplant.
He's been receiving the very best medical care and attention possible from the Toronto General Hospital and Eugene and his family are extremely grateful for the world-class liver transplant team at the Toronto General who have been assisting him with his ongoing care and his medical treatment.
The liver transplant team at the Toronto General assessed Eugene and indicated that his condition is very serious and that the option that must be pursued in his circumstance is that of a live liver donation. That process involves the removal of a portion of a living donor's liver so that it can be transplanted into the recipient patient. The liver is a highly resilient organ and it can regenerate itself within 90-120 days and return back to it's normal size so both the donor and the recipient will end up with normal sized livers after that period of time.
Any healthy adult between the ages of 18-55 years of age is a potential live liver donor. To date, over 600 live liver donor transplants have been performed at the Toronto General Hospital and all the donors have returned to normal healthy lives with no restrictions.
When he was first diagnosed Eugene and his family immediately reached out to their close friends and their broader family with the hope of identifying someone who could be that live liver donor. The Melnyk family efforts yielded a number of potential donor candidates who have been extensively tested and a few of those potential donors got quite far along in the testing process, all the way we'd say to the 1-yard line, before they were deemed to be unsuitable donors. Consequently and to date, the family's efforts have not been able to yield a suitable donor.
These efforts continue by the family but Eugene's health has deteriorated and is now in urgent need of a transplant.
Time is of the essence so today, on behalf of Eugene and his family, we are appealing to members of the general public who may be interested in becoming a live liver donor.
For general inquiries, the public can call our offices here at 613-599-0100.
The immediate reaction has been very good on social media and we're getting a lot of calls now. Our main goal here is to get people to complete the application form that the Toronto General Hospital has to determine if you are a candidate for live liver donation.
There's also detailed information on live liver donation online at the Toronto General and we will be directing individuals to that site from our main website at ottawasenators.com.
The club is asking the Senators extended family and everyone in the hockey community to keep Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in your thoughts and in your prayers during the days and weeks ahead.
For those persons that have inquiries regarding being a donor, the Senators will have staff available to answer calls at 613-599-0100 until 9 p.m. this evening and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15.
If any persons are having difficulty with faxing the completed medical forms to the hospital, the Senators will be happy to help aid in this process. For support in having the forms sent to the hospital, please call 613-599-0100. For frequently asked questions on being a live liver donor, please visit here: http://senators.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=105652.