STANTON, Del. – Prior to 2024, 16-year-olds were not invited to donate in Delaware.  Delaware was just one of two states not collecting from 16-year-old blood donors, but that changed with a recent criteria upgrade.   Mackenzie Fanning is one of the first 16-year-olds to donate this academic year. 

16-year-old Mackenzie Fanning enjoying a snack after her blood donation at BBD.

Fanning first donated in November at the Saint Mark’s High School Fall Semester Blood Drive hosted and coordinated by the Spartans’ National Honor Society. After learning about the importance of donating blood, Fanning was committed, and she was overjoyed to learn she had O negative blood.  Learning about the rarity and importance of her special O- blood, Fanning presented to donated again her Saint Mark’s High School Blood Drive on February 8th.   Unfortunately, she was deferred for low hemoglobin. 

Fanning was not deterred.   She tried again on February 15th at the Christiana Donor Center, and she was deferred again.  Did she give up? No, she made another appointment for Monday, February 19. She was off for President’s Day from Saint Mark’s, and she came in the early afternoon. Her perseverance paid off and she successfully donated for the second time in her young life. The third time is the charm, as they say.

Mackenzie Fanning with BBD staff in a blood donation chair.

Mackenzie reported that she took the advice of our Donor Services staff as well as volunteers in the café, who advised her collectively to watch our video on hemoglobin tips, take Flintstones vitamins and to eat a quarter pounder from McDonald’s for lunch.

“I liked it. It was a good experience,” she said. “Everybody was super nice and helpful. When I came in here and got denied, they sent me an email. People here gave me tips, and it was super helpful in trying to save lives. The environment here is super nice; it’s very welcoming. It just feels good that I can help save lives [with her O negative blood].”

As for whether she prefers donating at Saint Mark’s or the Christiana Donor Center, it makes no difference.  “I feel like both are really convenient,” Fanning said. “I’m close to both sites; it’s not really out of my way to go to either one. It just feels good that I can help save lives.”

A smiling Mackenzie Fanning

NYBCe COO Adrian David, NYBCe Senior Vice President David Graham, and BBD/RIBC Vice President Beau Tompkins were happy with her tenacity and hope that she is an example for other young donors.  .

“Think of the life-time value to patients of the blood donated by an O neg donor starting at the age of 16!” David said. “Mackenize is now part of our mantra, ‘They CARE. We CARE. I CARE.’ MacKenzie CARES.”

Added Tompkins, “Perseverance pays off!  And…an O Neg to top it all off!”