We work hard, and at the end of the day, we deserve our beer and fruity cocktails, don’t we? It might not be a healthy choice, but if Paul Newman can look that good smoking a cigarette, why not us? But when our health is compromised to the degree that it is threatening our lives, we will do whatever it takes for self-preservation.
So when one woman heard of her boss’s health struggle, she sympathized, and felt standing by her side unable to help was a form of torture. But when she stepped up to help in a way that totally crossed the line of employer/employee, her incredible act was met with a kind of gratitude — and consequences — she never saw coming.
Anyone that knew Debbie Stevens would describe her as kindhearted and hard working. She was a divorced mother of two working for Atlantic Automotive Group, a used car dealership in New Jersey. Debbie established a career for herself with Atlantic Auto, but in the summer of 2010, she knew she needed a change.
So Debbie gave her notice at work, packed up, and made a 1,000-mile trek to Florida to give life in the sunshine state a go. It wasn’t long before Debbie started to miss her daughter, who had stayed back in Long Island (just a short train ride from Jersey). She held out a few months, but then flew back in the fall for a visit.
When Debbie was back in her old stomping grounds, she dropped by the Atlantic Auto office to visit her old co-workers and see how everyone was doing. As Jackie was making her rounds saying “hello,” she ran into her former employer, Jackie Brucia. The boss had some horrible news.
It turns out Jackie was in need of a kidney. Debbie was stunned at Jackie’s tragic situation, but Jackie was quick to ease Debbie’s concerns when she let her know that she already had a donor lined up. Even still, Debbie felt compelled to do something for her old boss.
So Debbie offered her a kidney, in case anything happened to fall through with the other donor. It was a tremendous offer, and Jackie teased that Debbie shouldn’t joke because she just might have to take her up on that. Meanwhile, Debbie battled with her own internal struggles.
See, as Debbie returned to her new life in Florida, she realized just how much Long Island had felt like home. Though the thought of new adventure was fun, Debbie concluded she belonged there, near her daughter — not Florida.
So, only a few months after her visit, Debbie packed up her things once again and returned to Long Island for good. Now that Debbie was back and settled in, she needed to find a job. It was then that she remembered Jackie and gave her a call.
Given her history at Atlantic Auto group, Debbie felt like there might be an opportunity for her to re-join the company if they had any openings. When she spoke with Jackie on the phone, the boss was more than happy to re-hire Debbie, this time for a clerical position.
A few weeks later Debbie was back at Atlantic Automotive Group. She was settling into her new role and everything was just starting to feel like she never even left. Then one day, Debbie was called into Jackie’s office to have a talk.
There, Debbie alleged Jackie said her kidney donor hadn’t worked out. She sheepishly asked if she had been serious about the offer she made in the fall. Debbie confirmed that she was, and still was, 100 percent sincere. She would be happy to donate an organ if it saved her boss’s life.
Though kidney transplants are fairly common surgeries, there are still many complicated factors. For one, the donor and recipient must have matching blood types, but there are several other factors that must match up. If Debbie and Jackie weren’t compatible, the surgery would have to be called off.
And after undergoing several tests, the two women were met with some terrible news: they were not a match. Debbie was sick over not being able to help her friend. Still, Debbie was informed that while she couldn’t directly help Jackie, there was a person in Missouri who was in need of a kidney — and Debbie was a match.
Inspired by Jackie, Debbie donated her kidney to the stranger in Missouri! Her amazing gesture didn’t stop with saving that one recipient’s life. When Debbie donated her kidney, she did so on Jackie’s behalf. That led to something incredible for Jackie, too.
Because of Debbie’s donation, Jackie was able to jump up on the donor list. It was only a short time before Jackie found herself a kidney match and underwent the surgery. Although the kidney wasn’t hers, Debbie’s donation still helped get Jackie a new kidney!
But while Jackie was on track for a quick recovery, Debbie was not so lucky. During the donation operation, the surgeon accidentally hit a nerve. Debbie claimed this left her with some serious digestive complications and excruciating pain. Sadly, the discomfort from the operation wasn’t the only pain Debbie experienced.
As the two women were forced to stay home for several weeks while they recovered, Debbie alleged she saw a new side of her boss. The complications from surgery had slowed Debbie’s recovery, yet she claimed she was pressured and harassed by Jackie to return to work!
Stunned by her boss’s thankless behavior and berating phone calls, Debbie returned to work before she felt ready. Doctors recommend a couple months of recovery after a kidney transplant — and that’s if everything goes well! But Jackie allegedly demanded Debbie return to work after just 4 weeks…
According to Debbie, Jackie went full on Jekyll and Hyde. The Jackie that returned from surgery was so monstrous she constantly screamed at Debbie and prohibited her from leaving her desk. She wasn’t even allowed to use the bathroom without asking for permission!
Just when everything seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, Debbie said she was forced to move to another office 50 miles away from home! Frustrated, Debbie sought legal council, but when her lawyer wrote a letter to Atlantic Automotive, things only escalated.
The letter requested Debbie be granted additional recovery time and the ability to use the bathroom without permission. But just a few weeks after the letter was sent, Debbie claimed she was fired without explanation!
Debbie’s legal team stepped right up to her defense. They opened a case against Atlantic Automotive Group for hiring an employee only to get an organ from her. The Atlantic Automotive Group refuted the lawyer’s claim, arguing it was despicable for Debbie to make a kind donation and then try to exploit it.
Wits Justice Project
In the end, Debbie and the Atlantic Automotive Group settled things outside of court. It was unknown what the final settlement was, but let’s hope that both parties were fairly represented and justice was served.
If Debbie’s claims were true, then the new bar for a horrible boss was just set pretty high! But of course, only one side of this story received national attention…
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