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The Aquilian

    A closer look into the remarkable life of Ms. Farley

    Ms. Farley in her office at Gonzaga. Photo by Carter Cadin/ Photo 2
    Ms. Farley in her office at Gonzaga. Photo by Carter Cadin/ Photo 2

    Three days before her first day of teaching at Gonzaga, Ms. Caitlin Farley performed her last surgery, yet it was the hardest and most groundbreaking experiment she had ever been a part of. In the morning of her last day of work at the Baltimore Surgery Center, her surgical team got into position and began their work for the next 29 hours. This surgery was like any other recorded in human history; it was a double arm transplant and one of the first of its kind. This specific surgery was so special because the donor and recipient were both Marines, and at one point in time, they both had the same marine tattoo on the same arm. This means that the recipient would get an arm with the same tattoo that he once had. What makes this surgery even more extraordinary is that one of the marines was alive, while the other was dead. 

    “[It was] a severely hard job,” said Ms. Caitlin Farley, science teacher and director of student activities, about her previous job before Gonzaga. “You never need to shower more than when the surgeries are over.” 

    Ms. Farley worked as a surgical specialist in Baltimore for three and a half years where she spent her time as part of the organ donation process. Originally, Ms. Farley studied biomedical engineering for undergrad, but she decided to work toward a profession in the medical field. She found her motivation to pursue her career as a surgical specialist during her master’s program at Tulane. During the program, she experienced and found beauty in seeing life from the inside. 

    After her time there, she searched for a job that involved helping people and the human body, and she ended up in a position that checked both boxes: a surgical specialist. There are many procedures that go into this job that make it quite rigorous. 

    Ms. Farley had access to a computer system that held information of near or recent deaths; from there, she and her team would take vehicle transport to the site in order to analyze the body to see if it was a possible donor. If a body contained organs that were able to be recovered, they must be donated within 18 hours; organs could last 24 hours, but only if they were kept in a freezer. The purpose of this process is to package the organs and tissue to send to doctors and hospitals in order to be transplanted into someone on a waiting list for organ donation. 

    Ms. Farley also received bodies from the morgue, who were oftentimes criminals, and she would perform surgeries on them to recover usable tissue. The possible donations consisted of shin veins, eyes, interior organs and even bone donations. The bone surgeries were especially tough as “two people were required to use a bone saw.” 

    However, Ms. Farley loved doing surgeries because after some time she would be “in the state of flow” where nothing could interfere with her process. This flow state paid off as she started seeing recognition for her work. Ms. Farley was able to set records within the nation for having the highest metrics and most perfect tissue recovery. The database she had access to also allowed her to see if the tissue and organs she recovered actually were donated to people. 

    The surgery that made the most impact on her were those done on the heart. 

    “It is beautiful to hold a human heart,” Ms. Farley said.

    Gonzaga Flickr: Ms. Farley is very involved with the student body at Gonzaga. Last year she went on the service trip to Los Angeles, California with a group of students including Senior Declan Monahan.

    For the most part, Ms. Farley thoroughly enjoyed her time as a surgical specialist because she learned something new each day. Once she began to master the craft, however, she realized that she did not want to be around dead people everyday. In the fall of 2019, Ms. Farley carried her knowledge and skills of the human body to her new job as a science teacher at Gonzaga. She chose to work in the education field because of her love for science and her newfound experience that she wanted to use to help others. 

    “I am driven by serving others,” Ms. Farley said.

    Her previous job allowed her to serve others through donating organs and tissue to those in need, yet her job at Gonzaga gives her the opportunity to serve students and help them prosper through education. 

    “Ms. Farley’s previous first hand experience dealing with the human body makes her  give extraordinary insight on anatomy,” said senior Declan Monahan, who was previously enrolled in her anatomy class.

    Gonzaga is a very different environment compared to working at a surgical center, but they are similar in the sense that they are places where Ms. Farley serves others and excels. 

    “The passion that Ms. Farley shows in her care for students and love for science inspires me every day,” said Ms. Maddie Davin, assistant director of campus ministry.

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    • H

      Harry Geib, SJFeb 28, 2023 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you Sam for your article about Ms. Farley. We truly do not know the half of it about other people. What an important background of helping people medically through organ donation. Hopefully your article will inspire others to sign up to be an organ donor.

    • C

      Carol CorganFeb 28, 2023 at 12:44 pm

      Nice bio, Sam! I only knew some of this background of Ms. Farley’s!