Lifesaving Donation

OCC student Caitlyn Garbutt donated her bone marrow after signing up at a “Be The Match” registration drive on campus. Garbutt is a 2014 graduate of LaFayette High School.

Caitlyn Garbutt remembers getting “the call.” It was February 2019, approximately two years since she had given a sample of her DNA at a “Be The Match” registration drive on campus. “My phone rang and the person calling asked if I was still interested in donating bone marrow. They told me I was a match with a 49-year-old woman.”

The person in need had Myelodysplastic syndrome, a group of disorders caused by blood cells that don’t work properly. “Once I was called I thought, ‘I could save somebody’s life. She might have kids and a family.’ I decided to go ahead with it. Everyone in my family was very proud of me. It helped to have their support.”

In March, Garbutt underwent surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and donated bone marrow from her hip. She was up walking shortly after the procedure and recovered quickly. “My biggest challenge was putting on socks. It took me about two weeks before I could put my own socks on again.”

Garbutt has not yet met the woman she helped. Under the terms of being a donor, they can exchange letters in the months following the donation. If both parties want to meet after one year, they can do so. Garbutt hopes to meet her one day and encourages anyone considering donating to do so. “Being able to save someone’s life was pretty cool. You should join the registry. If you decide to donate, think about the person’s life you could save and how it might effect them, their family and their children. Saving a life is worth a little bit of pain.”