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Gift of life

Employee to become organ donor for sick child

Toledo, OH, Retail Associate Nicole Bugaj
Toledo, OH, Retail Associate Nicole Bugaj plans to donate a kidney this month to help a local child in need.

A Postal Service employee will soon become an organ donor for a toddler in the final stages of kidney disease.

Nicole Bugaj, a Tolelo, OH, retail associate, was driving to work in May when she saw a billboard advertisement seeking a kidney for a 3-year-old Delta, OH, boy named Ronnie Rusek.

The child needed a donor with blood types B or O, the sign read.

After two days of seeing the sign, Bugaj called the number to see if she could help. After several rounds of testing, she learned she was a match for Ronnie, who has been on a transplant waiting list for almost two years.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” said Bugaj, who also donates blood platelets every month to help save other lives.

Ronnie’s family received media attention shortly after placing the unique ad.

“I had numerous doctors tell me he wouldn’t live after birth. We had a death plan for him,” Mary Rusek, the boy’s mother, told WTOL, the local CBS station.

Colleagues at the Kenwood Post Office are proud of Bugaj.

Charbieara Garland, a customer services supervisor, said “it was no shock” to learn the retail associate would donate a kidney.

“Nikki has never had a problem going above and beyond for the customers,” Garland said.
“There is never a task too big or complicated for her to handle.”

It will take a few weeks for Bugaj to recuperate from the surgery, which is expected to occur this month, but it’s worth it, she said.

“Giving back is so important to me,” she said. “Why not try to help?”

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