Kidney Donor Runs into Obstacle for Time Off from Work

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- "It`s been a big gift," said Heather Watson-Vance, who received great news last week when she found out that her step-daughter Cori Vance was a match to be an organ donor. "I was born with polycystic kidney disease, which is a terminal genetic illness. There is no cure. Pretty much all we can do is a kidney transplant or dialysis," said Heather Watson-Vance.

So when she found out Cori was approved to be a living donor and give her a kidney, she was ecstatic; until she found out Cori's employer - Windsor Windows & Doors in West Des Moines - wasn't so thrilled.

Cori says she kept Windsor in the loop throughout the whole process, and told them that she was being tested to see if she was a match, but that when the company found out she was a match, she was met with opposition.

"The HR lady had said that they`ve been talking and we need to talk about the days off and if I would be coming back, and so she recommended that she would give me a week to come back," said Cori.

Cori says she was later told by Windsor that they would give her two weeks off tops, and that that was them being generous, and that there would be no restrictions. "I had informed them that, you know, I wasn`t gonna be able to come back without any restrictions, and what I do is the paperwork, that I would have a ten pound restriction, and then she asked me would you be able to stand? For 8-10 hours? and I said it`s all up to my doctor, like I don`t know right now and she said no, so she just told me that my last day would be October 30," said Cori. At her job, in addition to paperwork, Cori also moves metal. "I unload it and load it into a cradle," said Cori.

Channel 13 News went by Windsor Windows & Doors in West Des Moines to hear what they had to say about all of this, but we were told by the front desk that the Divisional Human Resources Manager - Pete Crivaro - had no comment. "And then I spoke with you guys and when you guys had showed up there, I don`t think he liked that very much. So, he told me that if I do speak with you guys to let him know so that he could prepare and that to let you guys know that he`ll grant me 4-6 weeks," said Cori.

But Cori and Heather say this story is bigger than just their situation. "And that`s not my point is for me to get the 4-6 weeks, because they weren't gonna give it to me anyways, until all of this happened. I just like, it`s not okay, and I don`t` want other people who like have thought about donating, I don`t want them to change their mind, not to do it because they're scared or companies aren`t giving them a chance neither," said Cori.

"We just really feel like with an organ donation that`s gonna impede other people from maybe wanting to donate an organ if they were treated this way at their job or they're not going to receive their job back after the donation, I mean you can`t put your own family in jeopardy, you know even to save a life," said Heather Watson-Vance.

In a statement emailed to Channel 13 Tuesday night, Pete Crivaro wrote the following: "Windsor Windows & Doors respects the privacy of our employees and we do not speak about their personal circumstances. Every employee is valued and we do our best to support them. Cori is doing a kind and courageous act and she understands that Windsor will hold her position for her. We admire Cori for her generosity and wish her a successful outcome. Please speak with Cory if you have any further questions."

A statement given by Amy Varcoe of UnityPoint Health - Des Moines on behalf of The Iowa Methodist Transplant Center, said "Our recommendation is 2-6 weeks recovery time after a transplant or donation of a kidney depending on the line of work the patient does. If a person has a more labor intensive job it is longer than a sedentary job. When lifting 10-15 pounds it is recommended 4-6 weeks recovery time."

A benefit to support Cori cover the cost of living expenses during her 4-6 week recovery time is being held on November 1st, 2015 from 10:00 AM-3:00 PM at SudSuckers at 1511 East Army Post Road, Des Moines, IA 50320. There will be a 50/50 raffle, an auction, door prizes and a bake sale. To donate raffle items or cash donations, call Heather at 515-250-0415.  A GoFundMe page has also been set up to raise money because Cori will not be paid during her time off from work, while she recovers from her operation.

The surgery is scheduled for November 4 at the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center.

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