A Journey Continued, With Love: Team Red Donation

Team Red is a New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) initiative with one simple objective: to make it easier for eligible people to donate blood – a group donation initiative that has been proudly adopted by the Mundy family in remembrance of their late son, Harrison.

It was a stiff neck from a hockey-related injury that initially led Harrison and his parents Hayley and Allan to the doctor’s office. Harrison had been feeling a slight discomfort for several days before it was decided to visit their family GP who suggested a CT scan. The family expected a minor sport-related injury in the scan results, but instead were stunned when they were informed of a mass growing in Harrisons’ C7 vertebrae.

Without time to think, the Tauranga-based family made their way to Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital where Harrison was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer that grows in and around the bones, most commonly found in children and young adults.

“It all happened so fast. Harrison had been such a healthy boy all his life and suddenly we were in an ambulance to Starship and receiving the shocking news that he had cancer”, says Hayley.

Life had come to a sudden halt for the Mundy’s but as the word of Harrisons’ health began spreading within their community, more and more people became involved to support the family in their time of need with fundraisers, companionship and love.

What followed for the Mundy family was constant travel back and forth between their home and Auckland for Harrisons’ chemotherapy – a cancer treatment which in turn made him very pale and lethargic. In addition to his treatment, Harrison began to receive blood transfusions which helped restore his blood count and recuperate his strength. Hayley says she and Allan soon learned to pick up the signs when Harrison needed blood transfusions.  

“It was just so evident when he needed a pick me up. He would go rather pale and feel very tired. He’d get noticeably better once the blood transfusions were done”, says Hayley.

There was so much support for Harrison that his parents created a Facebook page titled ‘Harrison’s Journey’, one that would follow the Mundy’s in this tumultuous time as they shared pictures and progress of Harrison’s experience.

But despite the goodwill of the family to beat the cancer, not to mention Harrisons’ incredible strength and determination, the treatments were just not enough. The doctors advised the Mundy family the chemotherapy sessions would work to prolong life as opposed to work to cure Harrison.

Harrison passed away at 11 years old on February 16th 2014 – a date Hayley and Allan are determined to have stand for the greater good, in loving memory of their son. Team Red for Harrison was created this year and consists of Hayley, Allan and eight family friends who are happy to donate blood in loving memory of Harrison. The Mundy’s hope this will turn into an ever-growing group and an annual tradition.  

 “The first years are obviously very difficult, very hard and you don’t quite know what to do. When the day first came around, Harrison’s anniversary, we would get together with a very tight knit group of friends and grab dinner or something quiet but going forward we really wanted to mark the day by doing something good”, says Hayley.

“We know that we are helping those in need, especially all those children who sometimes need blood transfusions as an after effect of chemotherapy, as was the case with our darling son Harrison.”

Harrison may have lived a short life, but what he has left behind isn’t just an imprint of eternal love for his friends and family – he’s left behind a new legacy, a Team Red in his honour that is helping people all over New Zealand who are facing significant health challenges, just as he did. It’s his journey continued, with love.

To find out more about how you can become a blood donor, click here  or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.


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