Margaret Frank-Bader has been nurse for over 30 years. She has devoted her career to taking care of patients who are awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. Little did she know when we she began her career that one day she would be caring for her partner, Isaac, as he awaited a liver transplant.
“Being on the other side of things was a scary experience,” Margaret says. “I’ve cried with families whose loved ones needed a transplant and here I was going through it with my family.”
Isaac was diagnosed with liver disease 30 years ago and was able to delay a liver transplant thanks to re-sectioning procedures and other medical interventions. But in early 2020 it became apparent that the only way for him to survive was with a new liver.
He grew sicker and sicker just as COVID-19 tore through New York, putting the couple in a very difficult position. Isaac was sick and had to stay in their apartment in an effort not to catch the virus, but Margaret was an essential healthcare worker and had to go into work throughout the city-wide shutdown.
“I stayed in a hotel during the peak of the pandemic so that we could keep him safe,” Margaret says. “Right before I left, he wore a garbage bag so he could hug me. After that, if I had to go to the apartment, we wore masks and socially distanced. I couldn’t hug or kiss him.”
Over the summer, Isaac’s condition worsened and he was checked into the transplant floor at NYU Langone that Margaret worked on. He was incredibly sick, but Margaret took comfort in knowing that her colleagues would take good care of him. She skipped clinical rounds during which doctors would review his case and make plans for care because she had faith that her team would make the right decision as they had on the hundreds of other cases they worked on together.
“I thought he had maybe two weeks to live at that point. He was so sick that his kidneys were beginning to shut down,” she remembers. “He looked so sick . I felt as though I would loss him. I was very afraid of the possible outcome if a donor was not found.”
Isaac and Margaret began having difficult conversations regarding end of life preparations when something amazing happened. A selfless organ donor chose to give the gift of life. Margaret’s colleagues performed the transplant surgery and saved her partner’s life.
“Isaac and I will never stop being thankful to the incredible organ donor who saved his life and to the doctors and nurses — my friends and colleagues — who cared for him,” Margaret said.
This Nurses Week, LiveOnNY salutes Margaret and all the incredible nurses like her who work every day to save lives.