UK & World News
Kidney Donor 'Betrayed' By Boss After Firing
A New York woman who donated a kidney so that her boss could receive one, only to be fired afterwards, has told Sky News Online that she has been left "betrayed and heartbroken" by what happened to her.
Debbie Stevens, from Long Island, volunteered to become part of a kidney donation chain, so that her boss, Jacqueline Brucia, could move up the waiting list.
The two women had surgery on the same day in August 2011 after Ms Brucia took Ms Stevens up on the kind offer.
But Ms Stevens claims that when she returned to work after the operation, Ms Brucia became inexplicably "curt and dismissive", and angry with her for needing to take short breaks or time off.
She was moved to another branch of the car dealership she worked for, Atlantic Automotive Group, and then eventually fired last month.
Her bosses cited performance reasons for the termination, even though had been no complaints about her work before the kidney operation.
Ms Stevens says she has been so emotionally damaged by the incident, she has had to start seeing a therapist.
She said: "I feel ashamed and embarrassed about what has happened ... it makes no sense to me.
"It was such a hostile work environment."
Ms Stevens, a divorced mother-of-two, has now filed a lawsuit accusing her former employer of discriminating against her over disabilities brought about by complications from the surgery.
She says she continues to suffer from physical problems as a result of the operation, like numbness in the leg and digestive issues, and is worried about being faced with huge health bills.
Her legal team is seeking damages and compensation for loss of earnings.
Lawyer Jeffrey Brown said it was "hard to understand" why his client has been treated so badly.
He told Sky News Online: "She acted out of the goodness of her heart. She never expected anything in return, all she wanted was to be treated like a human being.
"It is shocking to think that someone who just received the gift of life could be so callous and inhumane.
"I think it's the ultimate, ultimate example of someone taking advantage of a kind spirited woman who really gave her kidney out of the goodness of her heart."
Atlantic Auto Group did not respond to requests for an interview, but the company has released a statement.
It says: "It is unfortunate that one employee has used her own generous act to make up a groundless claim.
"Atlantic Auto treated her (Ms Stevens) appropriately and acted honorable and fairly, at every turn."
Ms Brucia could not be reached for comment.