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Employee Relations

Staff Shared Leave Pool Recipient Pays It Forward

Donating to the UK Staff Shared Leave Pool is easy with our new online donation form.

When Karen Michul took a job with the University in August 2011, the last thing on her mind was the possibility of soon needing several weeks’ time off for a medical procedure.

Karen was looking forward to new challenges in her position with the Markey Cancer Center, working in support of Division Administrator Meredith Boarman. Above all, Karen was excited about rejoining the University again after working in the private sector for several years. Within just a few weeks, her return to UK affirmed her view of this as place to work that is not only dynamic and engaging, but also uniquely supportive. Just how supportive, she would soon find out.  

One Facebook Friend, One Life-Saving Decision…One Not-So-Small Problem

Just a few weeks into her new job, Karen was checking Facebook one night and read an urgent plea for help from the mother of a childhood friend, Matthew. As it turns out, Matthew was facing serious health challenges and was in dire need of a life-saving kidney transplant. His mother’s Facebook post made it clear the situation was critical. Ten potential donors had already been tested, and each failed to provide the medical “match” needed. As the proud parent of  two herself, Karen responded instinctively to this call for help. Though she knew the odds of a match were long, Karen volunteered for testing as a potential kidney donor.

You probably know where this story is headed: Karen went through three rounds of tests over several weeks. By November, she was confirmed as a candidate for kidney donation. Karen had kept her supervisor, Meredith, in the loop along the way. Meredith and the medical team at Markey were, not surprisingly, supportive of Karen’s interest in donating.

As Karen notes, “I am fortunate enough to work for some outstanding doctors and an excellent supervisor, Meredith Boarman. “  

But Karen had neither enough vacation leave nor sick leave to cover the three weeks needed to undergo and recover from such major surgery. And the clock was ticking. With no other viable option, Karen applied to the Staff Shared Leave Pool, and not knowing what to expect, was surprised when the committee quickly granted her request for leave.

Shared Leave Donations Make a Life-Changing Impact

In January, Karen had a successful surgery, a brief hospital stay and several weeks to recover. Since then, she’s been back on the job at Markey Cancer Center with an even greater sense of what it means to work here – and an even greater appreciation the incredible work being done by the UK HealthCare physicians and researchers her office supports. In the meantime, the recipient of her donated kidney is constantly improving and no longer requires dialysis that had become a big part of life.

Karen’s generous act was only made possible by the generous support of those UK staff who contributed vacation leave to the Staff Shared Leave Pool. It’s only fitting that her generosity was given in the spirit of service that’s such a big part of UK’s mission.

A Special Thank You

Karen was motivated by her experience to send President Capilouto a letter of appreciation for the Staff Shared Leave Pool initiative and for her supervisor’s support. When they were introduced at an event a short time later, President Capilouto took time to thank Karen for her choice to donate a kidney. On that day, as in the photo above, Karen wore a green pin in support of organ and tissue donations and a tree of life necklace given to her by the kidney recipient’s family.

For her part, Karen will “always be grateful to all those who made this possible, including share leave donors and committee members. When the time comes for me to donate, I will not forget what was done for me.”

Every Situation is Unique, and So Is Your Gift of Time

Karen’s situation isn’t necessarily typical of Staff Shared Leave Pool recipients. Most applicants for shared leave do so because of an immediate medical crisis affecting themselves or their immediate family members. Every situation really is unique. And because donated time goes directly to support our UK colleagues, so is your gift of donated vacation time.