Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Katie Quinn

2011 Humanitarian of the Year Award recipient

  • Linda Owen Pedroley
  • Published: Feb. 21, 2011
Katie Quinn portrait

Katie Quinn

Most nurses enter the profession expecting to help people, but few have the opportunity to directly affect a person’s health like Katie Quinn.

While Quinn was working on her BSN in 2007, she donated bone marrow to save the life of a stranger. Her cells were determined to be a match for a leukemia patient six months after she gave her contact information and a cheek swab to a bone-marrow registry during the spring Greek Week blood drive.

“I was in the middle of my med-surg rotation and asked if I could wait until Christmas to donate,” said Quinn, BSN ’08. “They said it was an emergency, so I went in for blood tests and started taking filgrastim neupogen shots to boost my white blood cell count.”

Quinn made the donation in St. Louis and her cells were flown overnight to Seattle, where engineering student Anna Robinson was waiting. The transplant was successful and Robinson has been in remission for over two years.

“I was completely shocked,” wrote MU Nursing Alumni Organization president Ardith Harmon, who served as Quinn’s pediatric course instructor. “Not because she donated, but because she did it so quietly and so few people at the nursing school knew about it.”

DKMS, the German bone-marrow registry started by Peter and Katharina Harf, maintains anonymity for donors and recipients for two years after a donation. In fall 2009, DKMS arranged for the two women to meet in New York. Their meeting was televised on the Today show and a story was published in Self magazine. They have maintained contact since then and have met each other’s families.

After graduating in Dec. 2008, Quinn stayed in Columbia and worked at Boone Hospital Center in the medical ICU, where patients, coworkers and supervisors appreciated her commitment to care.

“Katie…is genuine, kind and compassionate in her interactions with her patients and their families,” wrote Andrea Fansler, MICU manager. “[She] frequently receives recognition from her patients and her coworkers about her selfless acts and her desire to help others in any way she can.”

Quinn says she has always been fascinated by science, math and medicine, so nursing was a good career fit. She is continuing her education in Kansas City where she is working on a master of business administration degree. Quinn also works as a PRN nurse in the renal and transplant unit at University of Kansas Medical Center, which specializes in liver, kidney and pancreas transplants.

“Ever since I donated bone marrow, I’ve been interested in the whole transplant process,” Quinn said. “Transplant patients have a different outlook on life.”