Nicole Zabel
March 2021
7W Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan




We continued to have Nikki as our nurse a few more nights and each time it was her carefulness and attention to detail that we saw from her.
While we have received exceptional care from all the caregivers on 7W, Nikki deserves outstanding recognition for doing her job beyond all that was required of her.
There are several characteristics that come to mind about Nikki that makes her worthy of this award, but here are a few I noted; she gives of herself to each patient, she takes time to get to know the patient and their care is foremost in her mind, she is meticulous and has an attention to detail.
We first got to know Nikki over several days as she was our nurse during the conditioning for a bone marrow transplant, and then she actually did our transplant. The evening of our transplant, we were educated on how the bone marrow would arrive internationally, and how it would be transported to the hospital. Our transplant time was scheduled for 5:30 pm, to allow for transport time and also for the time it would take the lab to get it ready. As 5:30 approached, the lab had not heard from the courier that the bone marrow had arrived at the airport.
Next, we heard was that the courier had arrived at the lab but had not called them ahead of time. So then we were given a new potential transplantation time of 7:00 pm. But at 7:00 pm we were told again that there was a delay and that the bone marrow would not be ready until 9:00 pm, which was a concern for us because we knew the night nurses did not do the transplants. The cells may have to be frozen and given the next day. My husband was already quite sick from the chemo and was definitely worrying that things were going wrong, and we had no plan B.
We were so thankful when we were told that Nikki was just finishing a transplant and that she was willing to start ours as soon as she was finished, and that we would start shortly after 9:00 pm! By the time Nikki got to our room, my husband was relieved but still concerned. Nikki assured us that the lab made sure there were enough stem cells, and also that she was ready to jump right into the transplant.
Unfortunately, as the transplant started, my husband began having symptoms. He was feeling very hot, nauseous, and the symptoms grew to have a temp, his blood pressure rose, his oxygen levels decreased, and was just feeling so very sick. Nikki handled each symptom calmly and accurately, contacting the physician on-call throughout the process. Nikki made the decision to stay with us during the whole transplant, rather than leave the room and wait for us to call her, or to keep coming back to check on us. She called out to other nurses for different meds that were needed, while reassuring us that all was well and that these symptoms are expected.
Throughout the whole transplant, Nikki was clearly in charge, showing great compassion, while also reassuring us aswell. She handled each new symptom with great care and precision. My husband eventually fell asleep, and Nikki completed the transplant. Never did Nikki say she was exhausted, needed a break, or indicate anything other than she was so glad she could do his transplant that night.
We continued to have Nikki as our nurse a few more nights and each time it was her carefulness and attention to detail that we saw from her. The first night she noticed the bandage on his mediport was put on incorrectly by a nurse from another department. Realizing how important it is to care properly for the port, she decided to redo the bandage rather than hope it wouldn't become a problem later. She assured us that the part of the bandage that was wrong was not a big deal, but that she wanted to make it right. She never complained about the nurse who put it on, but just said that she was probably not as familiar with the bandage as a BMT nurse would be and quickly completed her task. For us, Nikki was a good example of what an excellent nurse looks like!
My wife recently received a Bone Marrow Transplant on 7W. She had other medical issues to deal with besides the normal side effects from the transplant. Nikki's constant compassion and genuine personal care to her patient were amazing. Especially during some very difficult and painful days, she was always patient and took extra time to keep explaining every detail of what my wife experiencing.
During my 3 week stay in the room with my wife, I totally realized just how busy the nurses on 7W were day in and day out. However, Nikki always came in the room with a smile and comforting attitude, while remaining very professional in going about her job. To a patient, that is very important. When I spoke with other family members, they all had the same praise for Nikki. She made you feel like you were her only patient, and by the time my wife was discharged, we both felt so blessed and fortunate to have had Nikki as our nurse! I hope and pray that she is somehow recognized for her remarkable work ethic.