• Tue, Apr 24 2012

Woman Gives A Kidney For Her Boss, Then Gets Fired

kidney donationTalk about dedication to your job! Plenty of us put a lot of work into creating a positive and friendly relationship with our bosses, but I’m pretty sure that Debbie Stevens has us all beat. This Long Island resident recently gave up her kidney to help her boss move up on the transplant list. Then, shortly after her surgery, Stevens found herself dismissed from the company. Now, she’s suing for a Human Rights Violation in a story that seems as bizarre as any soap opera plot-line.

Stevens told ABC News that she had previously worked for Jackie Brucia at Atlantic Automotive Group in 2009 and 2010. She left on amicable terms because she moved from New York to Florida. During one trip back to visit family, Stevens stopped in to her old office to say hello. That’s when Brucia told her that she needed a kidney transplant, but was hoping to get one from a friend. Stevens made the remark that if anything fell through, she would be happy to help her old boss out.

Flash forward a couple of months and Stevens moved back to New York. She called her old boss to see if they had any openings and was immediately offered a position. Months after she started working for Brucia again, her boss called Stevens to her office and asked if she would still consider donating her a kidney.

Obviously, this mix of personal and professional life is an extremely delicate balance. Especially when your boss’s health is a concern, it’s difficult to know just how people will react to the stress of health problems or what will happen after the surgery. While this might not be the first employee to ever donate an organ to help their boss, it’s obviously not a common or simply situation.

But Stevens says that the decision had nothing to do with office politics or her career at all. She was just doing what any good person would. ”I did not do it for job security. I didn’t do it to get a raise. I did it because it’s who I am. I didn’t want her to die,” Stevens said.

Unfortunately, Stevens’ kidney was not a match for her boss. But in a move that I didn’t know was possible, Stevens was able to donate a kidney to a person in Missouri so that her boss could move up on the transplant waiting list. Eventually, Jackie Brucia did receive the kidney transplant she needed.

Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a turn for the negative. Stevens was injured during her surgery when the doctors hit a nerve in her leg, causing her pain. After four weeks off, she returned to work and found her boss had made a complete 180 on her treatment of Stevens. ”I don’t have words strong enough or large enough to describe her treatment of me,” Stevens said. “Screaming at me about things I never did, carrying on to the point where she wouldn’t even let me leave my desk. It was constant, constant screaming.”

Eventually, this employee who had so recently undergone major surgery for her boss was demoted to another car dealership 50 miles from her home. When she retained legal advice and sent a lawyer to her employers about the stress caused by this incident, she was promptly fired.

That brings up to today, where Debbie Stevens is suing, claiming that she was only rehired at the company so that she could donate a kidney for her boss and then be forced out. Seriously, Days Of Our Lives is wondering if someone stole their old idea boards here.

I suppose we could try to start a conversation about the mix of health problems and work relationships. We could talk about boss/employee relationships, how they often get abused and what happens when they implode. I’m sure there are lessons that we can take from this story.

But more than anything, all I can say is, “Wow.” It takes a whole lot of gumption to fire or even demote an employee who just donated a kidney for you. It’s possible that I would carry this person on my shoulders for the rest of my life.

There are always two sides to every story and I’m sure that Jackie Brucia is retaining legal advice and preparing to share hers with the world. But what do you think readers? Is there any way to explain firing someone who helped save your life?

(Photo: Thinkstock)

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  • Eileen

    Did you ever see the one episode of House where a woman donated part of her liver to her girlfriend, and Cameron wanted to tell her that the girlfriend was planning to break up with her? And then after the surgery, the woman admitted that part of the reason she’d donated was that now the girlfriend would feel too guilty to leave her?

    Obviously, that’s a soap opera, too. But I don’t think that you owe someone anything, professionally, because s/he did you a personal favor – whether it’s as dramatic as a kidney donation or something like setting you up with someone you ended up dating. Now, if she were fired because she took too long healing from the transplant, that would be one thing – but that would be a problem no matter to whom she’d donated. Maybe they set her up. Or maybe she was bad at her job and is trying to hold a kind deed over everyone’s head.

  • Amy

    I’m more confused about the whole chunk of this story that’s missing in regards to why she would even take the job. Or ask any coworker for an organ. Donating a kidney is a noble gesture and a severe procedure. Why you would even ask anyone in the same company as you is unfathomable to me as it really mows down the line of appropriate work requests over in an Abrahms. They’re not saying they’re old friends. Just old coworkers. I would never work anywhere that asked me that. And if I did, I would find new work immediately. There’s just nothing that makes sense about this.