OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network

At only 10 months old, Reese Hawkins of Pictou, Nova Scotia, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare type of leukemia that is typically found in male adults. She went through five rounds of intense chemotherapy at the IWK Health Centre. Five months later she was released showing no evidence of the disease and her family looked forward to moving on with their lives.

Unfortunately, their relief was shortlived. Just six months after her discharge, Reese’s leukemia returned and doctors told her devastated family she needed a stem cell transplant to survive.

In March 2012, Reese and her family were given the best news they could hope for when they were told a “perfect match” had been found. Stem cells from an umbilical cord donated by the mother of a baby girl would be used to save her life.

After two rounds of chemotherapy at the IWK, Reese was transferred to SickKids in Toronto where she received the stem cell transplant on April 13, 2012. Reese and her family spent 42 days at SickKids, 24 of those in strict isolation. Last April, the thriving little girl celebrated her “re-birthday” — her twoyear, post-transplant anniversary. Over the course of her treatment, Reese also received approximately 75 blood transfusions. Her family will be forever grateful to blood donors and the mother who donated her umbilical cord.

“Because one mother, somewhere in the world, made the decision to donate her umbilical cord blood, Reese is alive today,” says Kora Hanrahan, Reese’s mother. “Chemotherapy wasn’t going to be enough to cure Reese; I owe that mother everything.”

“I was so happy when I learned that Canada was getting a national public cord blood bank. We met a few kids along the way who weren’t able to find a stem cell match. Everyone should have a chance at a cure and this new cord blood bank will give patients that better chance.”