Donating stem cells to save a life is important moment for Clarion University alumna
Kaitlynn was working at a Gift of Life recruitment table at Clarion University in February 2018 when she joined the registry in the hopes of someday matching a patient in need.
“I was in a co-ed fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and the president was a Campus Ambassador for Gift of Life,” said Kaitlynn. “We gained service hours by working the table, so I signed up, and once I learned what the mission was, I swabbed my cheeks, of course. Most of my fraternity did, too.”
Kaitlynn felt that the opportunity to help someone with a transplant aligned with her lifelong desire and goal to help others.
“I have always had the aspiration to help people,” said Kaitlynn. “I went to college for psychology with plans to get my doctorate in clinical psychology so I can help people. I have donated hair and given blood, and it made sense to me to become part of the marrow registry.”
More than two years passed, then on December 21, 2020, while baking Christmas cookies with her roommate, she received a call from Boca Raton, Florida. Gift of Life told Kaitlynn she had been found as a match for a woman in her mid-sixties who was battling myelodysplastic disorder, a blood condition that can lead to leukemia, and had the opportunity to help save the patient’s life.
I couldn’t wait to share my blood stem cells with a person and to save a life. I am thankful that I was the best match possible. The emotions cannot be compared to anything I have ever done in my life.
“I was shocked, nervous and hopeful,” she said. “My roommate and I screamed and did a happy dance every time I got a call from Gift of Life with good news. I told every single person in my family and they were all super proud of me and excited.”
A Pennsylvania resident, Kaitlynn would travel to Florida to donate at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Gift of Life-Be The Match Collection Center. Her fiancé Nicholas joined her as her day of collection companion, and the two were able to not only enjoy a “donation vacation”, they also celebrated the four-year anniversary of their relationship while in Florida.
“We went on a yacht tour, ate out a lot, visited the beach, but also spent a lot of time at the hotel pool and in the hot tub,” said Kaitlynn. “During the collection process I just sat quietly. My donation only took three hours.”
While her family and friends are incredibly proud of her, Kaitlynn feels her donation has a deeper meaning in her life.
“This donation came at a great time for me, I felt like I needed a greater purpose in life and this trip and donating helped with that,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to share my blood stem cells with a person and to save a life. I am thankful that I was the best match possible. The emotions cannot be compared to anything I have ever done in my life.”
Kaitlynn is a graduate of Clarion University. In her free time, she enjoys TikTok, hangs out with her family, shops, and gives lot of attention to her two rabbits, Tucker and Finley.