TORONTO -- Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is recovering well after his liver transplant. All his donor wants in return is for the team to win the Stanley Cup.
The University Health Network hospital in Toronto said Thursday the 55-year-old Melnyk remains in the intensive care unit after Tuesday's transplant, but he's been awake, smiling and answering questions.
The hospital would not give the donor's name, age or sex. The donor wishes to remain anonymous to the public and to Melnyk.
"However, the donor has asked me to tell you 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," said Dr. David Grant, who led the surgical transplant team.
More than 500 people offered to be a living liver donor for the billionaire NHL team owner following a public appeal last week by the Ottawa Senators organization.
Melnyk, who was suffering end-stage liver failure due to an undisclosed disease of the organ, was in urgent need of a transplant, his doctors said.
Though they would release limited details about Melnyk's case, a liver transplant operation typically takes six to eight hours and recipients typically stay in hospital for up to two weeks, then take three to six months to recover fully.
In a statement read by spokesman Ken Villazor, Melnyk's family said in the 36 hours after the transplant, they had "already witnessed a dramatic improvement in Eugene's overall condition."
His family thanked the transplant team and the donor, saying "you are an incredible person and we truly admire your unselfish act of kindness and courage.
"You remain in our thoughts and prayers and we wish you a speedy and full recovery."
Melnyk had been on the waiting list for a deceased donor organ for several weeks, but having a rare AB blood type meant that finding a living liver donor was really his only option. None of his family or friends had been medically suitable donors.