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article imageFirefighter Docked Week's Pay For Donating Bone Marrow to Dying Girl

By geozone     Mar 14, 2007 in World
Saving lives is a major part of a firefighter's job. But one U.K. firefighter was punished for helping save the life of a child.
Mark McCracken, 43, had registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust. The trust runs a national bone marrow register to treat leukemia and called McCracken when they found he was a match for a teenage leukemia victim.
Mark immediately applied for a special leave from his job as a firefighter and though he was granted the leave, he was also told he would not be paid. In effect, he would lose a week's wages for his good Samaritan gift of life-saving bone marrow.
According to the Anthony Nolan Trust, most companies grant their employees paid leave when they donate bone marrow. Since the Fire Service chose not to reimburse Mark, the trust has done so from their own funds.
Mark's colleagues and the Fire Brigade's Union (FBU) are outraged by what happened. They are calling for the "outlandish" decision [not to compensate Mark] to be reversed. Said Lancashire secretary of the FBU: "If you want time off there is a special leave facility for certain situations. The Fire Service are trying to tighten up on special leave. A lot of firefighters are on the Antony Nolan Trust list and this lad was a match and they asked him if he would go through with the operation."
He further described the Fire Service's decision as "very harsh" and said he is disgusted with them. He found it very saddening the Fire Service elected not to give paid leave in the face of what most other companies do, especially given the circumstances.
Mark was contacted by doctors last November about being matched with a girl suffering from a life-threatening blood cancer. He went to London for a medical in December and by January, he was in The London Clinic for three days. There he received a general anesthetic and had a liter and a half of bone marrow removed from his pelvis.
Altogether he was off for two weeks and he was deducted five days worth of wages for the days he otherwise would have been working.
This past week Mark received a letter from the transplant center that the bone marrow graft was successful and the girl he had been matched with has now been able to return home.
For his part, Mark does not wish to comment on the situation at work regarding the docking of his pay. He does not want anything to reflect negatively on the Anthony Nolan Trust and the good work they do. " They go to great lengths to make sure any donor is not out of pocket," he said.
The Anthony Nolan Trust has always received tremendous support from the fire brigade in holding registration. Said a spokesperson for the trust: "What Mark did was heroic. We want people and employers to come forward and save lives, and we have always said we will reimburse people if they need time off work. I think most employers do give paid leave but we do get cases like this from time to time."
The chairman of the Fire and Rescue Service in Lancashire said managers only had the authority to grant special leave but not award paid leave. However, Mark's case will be discussed at a forthcoming committee meeting and could possibly be overturned.
Considering there are large numbers of firefighters who are registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust, situations such as Mark McCracken's will inevitably arise again. The Fire and Rescue Service had better revise their policy because, to me at least, it does seem like they have punished one of their own for doing something they are in the business of doing--saving lives.
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