At Henry Ford, we stress the importance of our employees treating patients like family.
But this week, I heard a story about two Henry Ford Hospital employees that reminded me of the equal importance of treating our colleagues as such.
And these amazing women not only treat each other like family, but will do anything – and I mean anything – to support each other.
After working together for five years in the Neuroscience Department at Henry Ford Hospital, Kim Alexander and Erika Bomar are both friends and colleagues.
When Erika’s husband, Damon, was diagnosed with kidney failure in January 2010, the Neuroscience team gave Erika immense amounts of prayers, love and support; Kim took it one step further.
Kim was tested to learn her blood type and found that she was a match for Damon, Erika’s husband of 16 years.
Without hesitation, Kim decided to donate her kidney, the ultimate gift of life
But the giving doesn’t end there.
After hearing about Kim’s decision, our Neuroscience team and several other departments rallied behind the two women, and donated more than 300 hours of their vacation time to the pair, so they would have enough time to recover and care for loved ones.
I’m very proud to share with you the below story about Kim and Erika, which will be featured in our hospital’s employee publication, News & Views:
Match Made in Heaven
“It was the right thing to do. I live my life by the Golden Rule – do on to others as they would do to you,” says Kim Alexander, secretary for the Neurosurgery Department at Henry Ford Hospital, while elaborating on her decision to donate a kidney to the husband of her friend and colleague, Erika Bomar.
After being hospitalized in January 2011, Damon Bomar, husband of Erika , a secretary in Neurosurgery, was told his kidneys were failing and immediately needed a kidney transplant or to start dialysis.
“Naturally, I was tested to see if I would be a match for my husband,” says Erika. “We’ve been married for over 16 years and have three children under the age of 16. We were not going to give up until we found a match. Unfortunately, that person was not going to be me.”
The Bomars continued to pursue other options while attending dialysis three times a week, such as the Paired Kidney Program at Henry Ford Hospital. However, the family remained on the kidney waiting list and continued to search for answers.
Friend and colleague of five years, Kim was curious what qualified as a match for a kidney donor. It wasn’t long after she was told the blood type is a strong indicator of a kidney match that she took matters into her own hands to research her own blood type.
There was no hesitation after finding out her blood type was a match. “She pulled me into her office, showed me the screen with her blood type and informed me she wanted to donate her kidney if Damon would accept,” says Erika. “All I could do was cry.”
Kim – who’s working two jobs, is a full-time student scheduled to graduate in December, and is tackling an internship – knew her biggest challenge would be finding time.
“I knew it would work out. I feel like this is my responsibility and calling. I am relocating to New York for graduate school soon and everything aligned too perfectly with the timing to ignore this,” she says.
“Everybody has their own issues and problems in life but the answers are around us – we just don’t always see them. I feel I was chosen to be (Damon’s) answer.”
Kim has not been the only answer to the Bomars’ prayers, either.
The entire Neurosurgery team at Henry Ford Hospital has been a tremendous support system for Erika. They, along with several other departments, have rallied together to donate the maximum amount of CTO time possible to allow her to take time off work to care for her family following the surgery. Similarly, Bridget O’Connor, clerical supervisor in Neurosurgery, has offered her home and her help to Kim during her recovery.
“It’s been a long, hard journey but I could not have done it without everybody’s support,” says Erika. “I am so grateful for the support, kind words, thoughts, prayers and love of the Neuroscience team.”