“I was given the ultimate privilege: saving someone’s life”
When a colleague faced a grave diagnosis, Unilever Hero Maggie Brommer responded with a unique donation that saved his life and changed her own forever.
Every year, we recognise pioneering individuals within the company who have brought our values to life and truly embody what it means to be part of Unilever. Our 2018 Heroes with Impact have gone above and beyond their day-to-day jobs. Their stories paint a picture of passion, purpose and drive.
Maggie Brommer, Global Assistant Procurement Manager, North America, has defined her purpose: ‘To do the right thing’. During the past year, she has realised that purpose dramatically – by giving the gift of life to a colleague.
Kevin Sardino, Tea Master for the Pepsi–Lipton Partnership, was facing a life-threatening crisis. He had been diagnosed with end-stage cirrhosis caused by a rare auto-immune disorder. Only organ donation – specifically a portion of a suitable donor’s healthy liver tissue – would help him recover. Unilever North America sent out a company-wide plea for assistance and Maggie, who did not know Kevin, responded.
Maggie was given extensive medical testing and was found to meet the strict criteria for liver donation. She was willing to do the organ donation on reduced pay.
When Kevin’s health started to decline rapidly, the procedure was brought forward. On 5 March 2018, Maggie and Kevin underwent surgery. Maggie’s surgery lasted six hours, Kevin’s operation 12 hours. Both are now doing well, and Maggie returned to work on 16 April.
“Obviously, there was a risk of death but to me it was so small compared to what would happen if it succeeded,” says Maggie. “I was given the ultimate privilege of being able to save someone’s life.”
More than 17,500 patients in the US are on a waiting list for a liver transplant. To raise awareness of the shortage of donors, Maggie made one request after surgery. She asked Unilever to allow her to speak at a company ‘town hall’ meeting and encourage colleagues to sign up to become organ donors. Two of the principal donor organisations in the US are Donate Life, a non-profit that promotes donation, education and a registry, and the Gift of Life which maintains a bone marrow registry to fight blood cancers.
And as a result of Maggie’s liver donation, Unilever North America created a new HR policy for organ donation. The policy fully covered Maggie’s expenses and kept her on full pay. It will provide the same benefit for others who opt for organ donation in the future.
“Maggie is a true hero who brought about a miracle through her courage,” said the Heroes with Impact judging panel. “We feel this is an outstanding example of our values and will build our Unilever commitment and community.”