Giving for Garrett - Holiday Blood Donation Challenge

Dec 2, 2020 | Katy Maeder | @katymaeder

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As we approach the Holidays, the Blood Donor Program couldn't think of a better way to share our gratitude than by honoring one of our staff members through this year's Holiday Blood Donation Challenge, 'Giving for Garrett.' This challenge was created to celebrate Garrett’s recent cancer remission.
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A technician at the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center, Garrett Aakre faced a difficult medical challenge in 2009 when he underwent a kidney transplant. Then, five years later, Garrett was dealt another blow. After abdominal surgery on May 25, 2019, Garrett and his fiancée, Erin, were informed that he had Burkitt lymphoma. Facing the diagnosis head-on, together they supported one another and considered it "just another hurdle" to jump over before beginning their lives together.

Burkitt’s Lymphoma, which has a cure rate of approximately 90%, often grows quickly, and that was the case for Garrett. He spent a lot of time in the hospital, including the ICU, to get the disease under control. Six rounds of chemotherapy that required 24-hour infusions for four consecutive days caused Garrett’s blood counts to drop substantially. During his treatment, his hemoglobin dropped to such dangerous levels that he required nine units of red blood cells to help him feel better.

But after all of the difficulties Garrett went through, he is officially in remission as of November 2019. He and Erin were married on Oct. 19, 2019. Garrett reflects: "Having Erin with me every step of the way was a comforting feeling. I was never alone in facing the uncertainties of my illness." They both agree that even though a donor may not see the impact of their donation personally, Garrett and Erin can assure all donors that the gift they are giving to patients is priceless.

Garrett mentions that this anonymous quote has meant a lot to him in his life: "Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often."

The challenge is running from Nov. 23rd through Dec. 31st. To participate, simply stop in at the front desk at one of our two locations and fill out a challenge sheet.

  • Hilton Building, first floor, Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 507-284-447
  • Saint Marys Campus-Joseph Building, main floor, Room M-86, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., 507-255-4359

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood or how to set up a blood drive in Olmsted County, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our web page http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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