Stem cell recipient and the donor she inspired share their story

Mackenzie and Robbie joined Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, director of stem cells at Canadian Blood Services, on CBC Radio

September 23, 2020
Large Image of Mackenzie Curran and Robbie Faraday collage

Mackenzie Curran and Robbie Faraday helped celebrate World Marrow Donor Day — marked annually on September 19 — by sharing their inspiring story with radio listeners.

Mackenzie, 22, received a stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, which was quickly progressing to an aggressive form of leukemia. Since that lifesaving procedure at age 16, she has become a powerful advocate for Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry.

One of Mackenzie’s presentations at Queen’s University helped inspire a schoolmate, Robbie Faraday, to join the registry. As a person of mixed ancestry, he understood he was in a special position to help patients who might struggle to find a match. And not only did he join, he was called to donate late the following year. Robbie and Mackenzie recently helped produce a new video to inspire others.

How does stem cell donation work?

Speaking with CBC Ottawa’s Stu Mills, Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, director of stem cells for Canadian Blood Services, described Mackenzie and Robbie as “great ambassadors” for the stem cell registry. Their video can help inspire people to join the registry online at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed recruitment events of the kind Robbie attended.

Elmoazzen also praised Robbie’s decision to make a donation when called to help a patient in need.

“About 50 per cent of the time that we call on people to actually go through and donate, they don’t follow through,” she said, adding that while it is always the right of a registrant to decline, it can delay a patient’s stem cell transplant.

Because of that potential impact on a patient, it’s important for would-be donors to understand the process.

“We want people to sign up who are committed to actually going through with the donation,” she added.

Stem cells provide potentially lifesaving treatment for more than 80 diseases and disorders including myelodysplastic syndrome, leukemia and other blood cancers. People in Canada between the ages of 17 and 35 can join Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry by requesting a stem cell donor swab kit online.

Share this story


Related stories