Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

Mayo Clinic Blood Donor program hits home for staff member



Garrett Aakre faced a difficult medical challenge in 2009 when he underwent a kidney transplant. Ten years later, and now a donor services technician with the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor program, Garrett was dealt another blow. 

After abdominal surgery on May 25, 2019, Garrett and his fiancee, 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 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 needed 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 needed nine units of red blood cells to help him feel better. 

After all the difficulties Garrett went through, he is officially in remission as of Nov. 2019. He and Erin were married on Oct. 19, 2019. "Having Erin with me every step of the way was a comforting feeling," says Garrett. "I was never alone in facing the uncertainties of my illness."

They both agree that even though donors may not see the effects of their donations 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."

Schedule an appointment to donate today

For more information about donating blood, call the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center at 507-284-4475 or email the center. Learn more on the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program website.