Michelle MacKinnon


David Gregory Foundation

Michelle's Story:

Hello…my name is Michelle Mackinnon and I am David’s Mom. 

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine hearing the words “your son needs a kidney transplant”.  The shock and fear are deafening.  

Now, close your eyes and imagine hearing that you and your husband are perfect matches.  You both can give your child a second gift of life.  Imagine the feeling of relief, the stress washes away in waves of gratitude.  

And I wish I did not have to ask you to imagine this final scenario, but I cannot tell you the story of my journey of healing without asking you to imagine this one final thing….  

June 5, 2011; the day starts out like most other days with the exception of the cautious excitement that was building.  In three days you and your son are to be admitted to St Joseph’s hospital where you will be wheeled into one operating theatre to have your organ harvested and your son into another where, upon receipt of your kidney, his future will begin.  But instead, on that very day, your son has a massive stroke.  And now, three days later, you are preparing for a funeral instead of undergoing the transplant procedure that would have saved his life.  

I thought my journey as David’s mother began the day he was born, August 28, 1992 but most days it feels like the first 18 years were a dress rehearsal. In so many ways, my birth as David’s mother happened on the day of his death June 8, 2011. Because every day since, I have walked in a protective focus to preserve his memory and ensure that his tragic death was not in vain.   

“Life is full of grief, to exactly the degree we allow ourselves to love other people.“ ~ Orson Scott Card   

Channelling my grief through the need to love other people fuels my journey and my work with the David Gregory Mackinnon Memorial Foundation.   No two people grieve in the same way.  I am such a task oriented person. Directing my grief toward the task of building David’s legacy by helping his vision and view of life to live on has become the way I have begun to heal.  David wanted a world where all young people had the opportunity to reach for the stars and be able to smile while they are doing it. Many families are not able to provide this to their children especially when illness sneaks in and takes days, hours and months away from work and home life.    

As the foundationsfirst Board President I find myself in the middle of the challenge of learning the ins and outs of running a charitable organization.  And while this challenge does not completely prevent me from wanting to explore my healing journey from “under the covers”, snuggling up with Roberts Rules,the 300 page “condensed” version, gets me up and redirects my journey!    

Aside from David’s Foundation, as a family we have actively looked to see how we can help someone who is in need of a kidney.  In November of 2013 our family traveled to San Diego, California (Continued at right...) 


to undergo testing to be a kidney donor for a young girl walking David’s same journey with kidney failure.  We were so excited to find out that both my husband and I are matches. While the protocol and paper work continues on, we are ensuring that the parent most compatible to our son Andrew does not continue on this donation journey. A couple of things popped up in my examinations so we are taking care of these things all with the excited anticipation of  being able to help another family.  

 As my husband says, nothing can bring David back.  And I would not be honest about my healing journey if I did not candidly say that some days I am just so mad and jealous.   All that we are doing will not put our family back together again; David will never graduate university, we will never host a wedding rehearsal party for David and his bride to be and I will never hold David’s newborn baby in my grandmotherly arms.   

 It would be so easy to focus on what we have lost.  But honestly that would feel like we are losing David over and over again, every single day.  We want to live life and live it in way that would make David proud of us and the legacy he left to us.     

Growing David’s foundation gives me a sense of peace.  We don’t just say the words of our desire to support those who are waiting desperately for the phone call to say…we have found a donor.   We know the journey these families are walking and through the foundation we are able to provide financial support to our families as well as to the services and service organization so critically important.   We are also aggressive in our advocacy for organ donation.    

We are deeply sad that our beautiful son, brother, grandson nephew and cousin had to die before any of us. No words in any language can describe how this feels for a parent whom has lost a child. I am however grateful and take some comfort that I was lucky enough to be David's mother. He has been my greatest teacher, my best friend, one of my greatest inspirations and he has helped me to become the person I am today. I thank him for this, and I am grateful that I took the opportunity to share this with him well before he died. David is and will continue to be one of my true, pure and eternal loves. I promise to him that I will continue to live my life in a way that will honor him and hope that he would still be proud to call me MOM. 

You can find out more about about the David Gregory MacKinnon Memorial Foundation of which Michelle is Board President and as this page was being created Michelle received confirmation that she has been accepted as a live kidney donor in a paired exchange program .                               


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