Fridley, MN – December 18, 2015
Several thousand Medtronic employees paused for an annual holiday tradition on Friday — a tradition that inspires many and even brings some to tears.
During the Medtronic Holiday Program, they met patients from around the world who came to Minnesota to share their stories about how medical technology has made a difference in their lives.
People like LeAnne Bonser, a 35-year old marathon runner, teacher, wife and mother from Virginia. She woke up in the middle of the night three years ago, coughing up blood. She was rushed to the emergency room where she received a diagnosis of stage 1 lung cancer. LeAnne had no other symptoms.
Two months later, doctors removed two-thirds of LeAnne’s right lung and tumor through two small incisions, using advanced Medtronic technology that makes surgery much less invasive. LeAnne started running again within two weeks and completed a marathon only six months after her surgery. Today, she’s living an active and healthy lifestyle and considers her early lung cancer diagnosis and successful treatment a “wake up call” to live life to the fullest. “I feel so honored and humbled to be here,” said LeAnne. “My prognosis looks good and being here has meant the world to me.”
Started in 1960 by the company’s co-founder, Earl Bakken, the program is a standing tradition for long-time Medtronic employees. “I never miss attending a Holiday Program,” said Deb Williamson, a 26-year employee in Medtronic’s human resources department. “This program motivates, inspires, and reminds us why we come to work every day.”
Patients invited to participate in the program are often joined by the doctors who treated them. The company stresses to its employees — through events like the Holiday Program — the importance of strong partnerships with physicians and a commitment to patients.
“This is one of the most important days on the Medtronic calendar,” Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told those in attendance. “Hearing these stories unifies us around our company’s mission — to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.”
In addition to LeAnne, this year’s event included pediatric diabetes patient Xavier Hames, spine patient Joanna Hawthorn, and stroke patient Kurt Hinrichs. And — perhaps the most recognizable patient among Medtronic employees — breast cancer patient Suzanne Foster, who is also Vice President and General Manager for Medtronic’s Advanced Energy division.
“The chance to experience firsthand what our patients go through every day has changed the way I look at the solutions we provide to our surgeons,” Foster said of her diagnosis and treatment. The Holiday Program gave her a unique opportunity to thank her co-workers for what they do every day. “The people at Medtronic put their arms around me and really helped carry me through the experience.”
For that, Foster is thankful. And Medtronic employees are reminded of what it means to help take healthcare further, together.
For more information about Medtronic and its mission to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life, visit Medtronic.com.
To learn about career opportunities, visit Medtronic.com/careers.