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Gift of milkshakes: McDonald's helps local teen battling sickle cell

19-year-old Grace Ndayizeyy is battling sickle cell anemia. On her way to her treatments, she always stops and gets a vanilla milkshake from McDonald's.

A local McDonald's gifted a young woman vanilla milkshakes, and then some, for her future visits to Sacred Heart.

19-year-old Grace Ndayizeyy is battling sickle cell anemia, and is in search of a blood stem cell donor. Every six weeks, Ndayizeyy goes to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital for blood exchange to help her manage her sickle cell anemia.

"I get eight units of blood, so they take my blood, get it through the tube, put it in the bad blood,” she said.

She's in need of a blood stem cell donor, but her search for a one has been difficult. Patients with this blood disease are more likely to match with a donor of the same ethnic background. Right now, the majority of registered donors are Caucasian.

"There are just not enough people on the registry. And it's not that they're not out there, it's just they're not signed up yet. So, Grace has a match, it's just not on the registry," said Vanessa Shafer with Be the Match.

Be The Match Registry and McDonald's teamed up to help raise awareness of this need for donors and raising Ndayizeyy’s spirits in the process. Each time before she heads to the hospital for her blood exchange, she picks up her favorite treat from McDonald's.

"It all started about last year where all I wanted was a vanilla shake, every exchange. So, my best friend, Emma would just bring me one from McDonald's because it's my favorite place to go. I just love vanilla milkshakes. And McDonald's is the only place that I just---they just make it right," Ndayizeyy explained.

"I know she's going through a very tough time with the treatments so I'm sure it's a comforting thing to go to a place that's familiar and a product like our shakes to prepare for her treatments," said Mark Ray Jr., McDonald’s franchise owner.

McDonald's is making sure Ndayizeyy can pick up her vanilla shake for all future visits to the hospital.

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