Almost from the moment they met while working on the cardiac floor at Tampa General Hospital in 1991, Debbie Ismer, RN, and Pam Mizerany, BSN, CCRN, PCRN, were kindred spirits. With common interests, similar gregarious dispositions and a deep faith in God, the women quickly connected and formed a close friendship.
Their 20-year friendship took on a new meaning last November when Mizerany donated a kidney to Ismer, who is affected by polycystic kidney disease.
It just all fell into place, said Ismer, who found out when she was 20 that the slowly progressing disease ultimately would cause her to need a kidney transplant. Plus it was hard not to consider her. There was just no way she was going to take no for an answer.
Although the two maintained a close friendship for years, Mizerany was only vaguely aware of Ismers condition.
You never really knew that she was sick, said Mizerany, a member of the housewide float team at Tampa General. Shes got this incredible work ethic; she didnt miss work, and I never saw her dragging on the floor we worked on together. She never had a bad day, which is really unusual for anyone, especially when you have this type of disease.
So it came as a surprise to Mizerany when, in 2008 at a concert sponsored by LifeLink, she learned that Ismer was on the kidney transplant list.
I said, Well, I guess I finally need the transplant, and she said, Well, Ill give you mine, Ismer said. But I was on the list and I didnt pursue it. Finally it was last year and I told her were taking our grandkids to Yellowstone for a month and if you really want to get worked up and if this is something you really want to do, you can go ahead.
Shortly after we got back, Pam said we were a match.
On Nov. 17, the operations were performed at Tampa General. After just days the women were discharged. Within months, they were back at work.
Mizerany admits that sometimes her willingness to help others comes back to bite her. But with this, Gods hand was just through it all it was just meant to be, she said.
Ismer adds, [Our connection] has just intensified since the transplant I just feel like shes definitely my sister, part of my family and my life.