When someone does a good deed, they usually do it without expecting anything in return. This is especially true when that good deed is donating a life-saving organ. There’s no way such a debt could ever be repaid…
But what one woman received in return for saving her boss’ life was something she could never have expected in her wildest dreams…
Looking for a New Start
Debbie Stevens was a typical Long Island woman, though, perhaps a bit more kind hearted than most. She was a divorced mother of two who’d worked for Atlantic Automotive Group, a car dealership operator. In the summer of 2010, she wanted a change in her life and decided to move south to Florida and so, she left the company.
That fall, Debbie came back to town to visit her daughter and, having fond memories of her former employers, she stopped in for a visit at her old job. It was then that her former boss Jackie Brucia, told her of her need for a kidney transplant…
A Kind Offer
“She said she had a possible donor, a friend or something,” Stevens said. “But I told her if anything happened that I’d be willing to donate my kidney. She kind of jokingly replied, ‘You never know, I may have to take you up on that one day.’ ”
Coming Home Again
Things in Florida didn’t work out quite as Debbie had hoped, however. A few months later, she decided to move back to Long Island. She was still on great terms with her co-workers at Atlantic so she contacted Brucia to see if they had any openings…
Calling In a Favor
Within a couple of weeks, Debbie was hired as a clerical worker and things were going fine. Then in January of 2011, Brucia called Debbie into her office. She said that her donor had been denied and asked if she really had been serious about donating her kidney. Debbie, a selfless and caring person, had been 100% serious. In her own words, “I didn’t want her to die.”
Would It Work?
There was potentially the same problem with Debbie donating her kidney as there was with the other donor Brucia had lined up, she might not be a match. In addition to having the same blood type, kidney Debbie and Brucia would need to match up on a number of other medical factors…
Life Giving Exchange
Unfortunately, tests showed that Debbie wouldn’t be a compatible kidney donor for Brucia. But as part of the kidney donation network, Debbie donated her kidney to someone in St. Louis Missouri on Brucia’s behalf. In exchange, Brucia was moved up on the donor list and got a kidney from someone else.
While Brucia’s surgery thankfully went off without any major complications, the surgeons who removed Debbie’s kidney hit a nerve which led to discomfort and digestive problems. They both spent the next few weeks at home recovering…
Speed It Up
Most people would be eternally grateful if someone else had undergone surgery to save their life. Brucia exhibited no such gratitude. “I spoke to [Brucia] a couple weeks after the surgery and she really made me feel bad I wasn’t recuperating quick enough,” Debbie said.
While most experts recommend waiting at least two months after a kidney has been removed to return to work, Debbie was pressured into being back at her desk just 4 weeks after her surgery…
Height of Hypocrisy
Three days after she returned, Debbie called in sick one day because of the discomfort, pain, and exhaustion she was experiencing. Brucia decided that was a good time to call her up — while she herself was still home recovering from surgery — to berate her saying “People are going to think you’re getting special treatment.”
Brucia’s mistreatment of Debbie didn’t stop there. Debbie said that Brucia would “[scream] 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…”
This sort of behavior hadn’t happened before the surgery. “She just started treating me horribly, viciously, inhumanly after the surgery,” Debbie said. “It was almost like she hired me just to get my kidney”.
Sent to Siberia
Brucia’s abuse would get even worse. On top of the regular and unprovoked tongue-lashings, Debbie lost her office and her ability to work overtime. She was also transferred to a different branch of Atlantic — one that was 50 miles away from her home in a high-crime neighborhood that they jokingly called “Siberia.” “It got so bad that I’d start to tear up at times,” Debbie said…
You could imagine the stress and mental anguish this would cause for anyone, let alone someone dealing with new medical problems that resulted from donating her kidney. Debbie made requests for clearance to use the bathroom without permission and not to carry piles of documents weighing more than 10 pounds. Both requests were denied…
Going to the Brass
After consulting with her psychiatrist, Debbie decided to have her lawyers send a letter to the billion-dollar company. Instead of helping the situation, the letter seemed to cause more harm than good. Less than a week after she’d sent it, Debbie was fired…
When Debbie lost her job, she not only lost her only source of income. She also lost her medical coverage. To fire an employee at such a time is almost unthinkable.
Now, debbie is suing Atlantic Automotive Group. “Our ultimate goal is to bring this before federal court,” Said Debbie’s lawyer. “We’re alleging they discriminated against her for her disability and they retaliated against her when she complained about the harassment”…
Atlantic and Brucia of course deny every one of Debbie’s claims. They gave no reason why Debbie was fired but in an official statement, Atlantic said “It is unfortunate that one employee has used her own generous act to make up a groundless claim. Atlantic Auto treated her appropriately and acted honorably and fairly, at every turn”…
Remarkably, Debbie says that she isn’t bitter about helping Brucia. She was thankful that the kidney she had donated went to help someone in Missouri. ”I refuse to let this make me have regrets,” she said.