Parents of 16-month-old Harrison, recently diagnosed with lymphoma, urge community to donate blood for families like theirs

They’re words no parent ever wants to hear.

Last month, just before Christmas, Shannon and Barrett McKinnon received the devastating news that their 16-month-old son, Harrison, had lymphoma, and would need to begin chemotherapy treatment.

“We quickly learned that blood transfusions would become a routine part of keeping our son healthy between cycles of chemotherapy,” says Barrett. So far, Harrison has had two transfusions, and more are anticipated as his treatment continues.

Shannon, who currently works with the Peterborough Family Health Team and was previously employed with PRHC, says the experience she and her husband are going through with Harrison has made her more aware than ever before of the importance of donating blood.

“We want to spread awareness so that others will benefit the way we have,” she says. “We owe so much already to the generosity and thoughtful foresight of blood donors, and we hope this small gesture will help give someone like Harrison a fighting chance.”

“It’s our way of paying it forward,” adds Barrett.

Shannon and Barrett have come forward at a difficult time in their lives to tell Harrison’s story, in the hopes that the people of Peterborough will take some time out of their day next month to attend one of four blood clinics being held by Canadian Blood Services in Harrison’s name. The clinics are scheduled for the week following Family Day.

“Donating blood is one of the best things we can do to help families battling cancers and a host of other disorders,” says Dr. Peter Hughes, Consultant Pediatrician with the Peterborough Clinic and Associate Professor, Queen’s University. “Blood is truly the gift of life and without it there would not be as many happy endings as we now see in childhood cancers and leukemia.”

“As an organization, Peterborough Regional Health Centre works very hard to use and preserve this precious resource as efficiently as possible, because we know the value of blood donations and what they mean to our patients and their families,” says Gail Murray, Blood Conservation Coordinator with PRHC. “We urge the members of our community to participate in this blood drive, to help families like Harrison’s.”

Clinics will be held at 55 George Street:
February 16 • 3:00 p.m. to 7:00p.m.
February 17 • 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
February 18 • 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
February 19 • 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

To discover all the ways you can help save a life and to book an appointment,
download the GiveBlood app or visit