Peterborough family seeks to raise awareness of stem cell donation in memory of son – Peterborough

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A Peterborough family is speaking out about the importance of stem cell donation after a stranger’s transplant helped their son, Harrison McKinnon.

Harrison was born on Sept. 15, 2014, but just after he turned one, the young boy got very sick.

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“He was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma — anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. It’s a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which we were told is the good kind,” said Harrison’s mother, Shannon McKinnon.

Harrison went through a year and half of treatment, and in March of 2017, he had a stem cell transplant.

“He was matched to this anonymous donor so he was able to get the stem cell transplant, but unfortunately part of the process is that they eradicate the immune system so that the body doesn’t reject the stem cells, and that made him susceptible to infection,” McKinnon explained.

Harrison’s immune system got very weak, and he died of a bacterial infection in June 2017.

READ MORE: Alberta woman shares stem cell donation experience to raise awareness

But while Harrison is no longer here, his legacy lives on. On Thursday, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Canadian Blood Services organized a stem cell swab session in Harrison’s memory.

“They will mail you a self-swab kit. You do your cheek swabs: there’s four very long Q-tips, you’ll rub the inside of your cheek, send it in the sealed envelope back to us and then you are part of the registry,” said Debbi Barfoot, territory manager of Canadian Blood Services.

If you are someone’s match, it could have a far-reaching impact.

READ MORE: ‘Needle in a haystack’: Stem cell drive seeks match for man with two rare forms of cancer

“Basically, anyone in the world who has this unique marker profile could (be) matched to someone in this country and need their stem sells, basically to try and save their lives,” McKinnon said.

Harrison’s family is also organizing blood donor clinics on Feb. 19, 21 and 22 at Canadian Blood Services on George Street in Peterborough. They urge everyone to come out and donate and help honour little Harrison’s legacy.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Rodney Stafford says he has ‘no idea’ if McClintic is back in a cell and it’s ‘kinda gut wrenching’

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Tori Stafford’s father, Rodney Stafford says he still doesn’t know from Corrections officials whether child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic has been returned to a maximum security facility and the wait has been « gut wrenching. » 

« I have no idea. I haven’t heard anything. Anything I’ve found out is through the media, » he told CBC News Wednesday. « She needs to go back to where she was. » 

It comes after Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ordered new, tougher rules for prisoner transfers to Indigenous healing lodges, following weeks of protests organized by Stafford in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and Stafford’s hometown of Woodstock, Ont.

Under the new policy Goodale announced today, transfers will have to be authorized by Correction Service of Canada’s (CSC) deputy commissioner for women, who will be required to ensure that Indigenous communities are engaged in transfer recommendations.

New, tougher rules for transfers: 

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, right, has ordered the commissioner of Correctional Service Canada to review a decision to send convicted killer Terri-Lynne McClintic, left, to an Indigenous healing lodge. (Canadian Press photos)

Factors in evaluating transfers to facilities without a controlled perimeter include:

  • Length of an offender’s sentence.
  • Time remaining before an offender is eligible for an Unescorted Temporary Absence.
  • A requirement that long term offenders be at least into the « preparation for release » phase of their correctional plan.
  • Institutional behaviour, for those serving long sentences.

Goodale’s spokesman Scott Bardsley said CSC will take steps to apply the new rules as quickly as possible, but did not say if McClintic has been transferred or will be transferred soon.

CSC is not permitted to publicly disclose an inmate’s location, but relays transfer information to registered family members of victims, he said.

Goodale said the new rules will apply to future circumstances as well as current ones. Asked if the new policy will apply to McClintic, the minister said « yes. »

‘It’s kind of gut wrenching’

Rodney Stafford has registered his name with CSC, but said he had not yet heard about whether the child killer has been transferred by correctional authorities. 

He noted the kind of anxiety he’s experiencing is akin to when he was in court, waiting for the verdict of his daughter’s other killer, Michael Rafferty. 

« It’s kind of gut wrenching, » he said. « You’re waiting for answers and it could come any time. You just don’t know when. It’s hard, » he said.

He called today’s announcement « a start, » but said he won’t be satisfied until McClintic is back in a prison cell.

« Put [McClintic] back, » Stafford said. « Enough is enough. » 

Goodale ordered CSC to review the McClintic decision and the policy at large. He said the minister has no legal power to intervene in individual cases, and that decisions about correctional and security classifications are based on what is best for the offender’s rehabilitation and for public safety.

Last month, the House of Commons defeated a Conservative motion calling on the government to condemn and overturn the decision to transfer McClintic to the healing lodge.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s question prompted Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to say he deserves a ‘hyprocrite of the year award.’ 3:07

McClintic was convicted of first-degree murder in Tori Stafford’s death in 2010, two years before her former boyfriend Michael Rafferty was convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder in connection with Tori’s death in a separate trial. 

Stafford was abducted on April 8, 2009, while walking home from her Woodstock, Ont. elementary school. McClintic lured the girl to Rafferty’s car before the pair drove her to a secluded location near Mount Forest, Ont. where she was brutally raped, beaten to death and then buried in a clandestine grave. 

Her disappearance sparked one of the largest searches for a missing person in Canada, as police officers in a number of nearby communities combed the countryside searching for any sign of eight-year-old. 

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