Dr. Atul Humar, Director of the Multi Organ Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital, said there has been a "huge response" to Melnyk's urgent public appeal for a liver transplant.
The Senators announced on Saturday that more than 12 candidates have been identified and selected to go through the donor screening process. The candidates are all at different stages of that process.
Melnyk, 55, who has been battling health issues for months, was admitted to hospital three weeks ago due to the onset of liver-related complications. His condition is considered critical.
Melnyk had been reluctant to make a public appeal, but loved ones convinced him to reach out for a potential donor after members of his family were found not to be suitable. A living donor transplant is Melnyk's best option because he has rare AB blood; a live donor doesn't need to have a matching blood type, whereas an organ from a deceased donor must be a perfect match.
Humar said doctors hoped the transplant would take place toward the end of the week. Dr. Gary Levy, director of the living donor liver transplant program at Toronto's University Health Network, said on Friday the transplant team hoped to have a donor match for Melnyk within 72 to 96 hours.
Potential donors, who go through a lengthy battery of physical and psychological testing, are told they could face a major surgery that removes 70 to 75 per cent of their liver for transplant. Their own liver will regenerate in eight to 10 weeks.
"What I can tell you is that we have had a huge response, we've had over 400 health histories ... and we're just in the process of going through all of those to find a suitable match," Humar said.
"It's hard to predict for sure but we would anticipate that as soon as we do find a match we would proceed with the transplant so I'm hopeful that it would be toward the end of this week."
Humar said the medical team would like to proceed as soon as possible but is currently going through a careful process of donor selection, which he said could take several days to complete.
Melnyk's health is stable and is in good spirits, the team said in a news release.