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Charlotte, North Carolina

Kenneth wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 10. This fall, he turns 21.

Diagnosed with sickle cell disease at birth, Kenneth has had a different experience with the disease than his older sister, Khayla. But their mother can’t imagine what either of their lives would be like without donors ensuring the blood products they need are readily available when a pain crisis occurs.

Kenneth had a lot of friends in school, and he loved to play sports. But he often struggled with his diagnosis and the physical limitations that came with it and kept him from being his best on and off the field.


In third grade, he received his first of many blood transfusion to treat a pain crisis. It was always difficult explaining to his classmates why he missed school, but the transfusions provided much needed relief from the pain.

“It was just one of those things that made you kind of different from everybody else,” he said.

A pain crisis his senior year of high school meant another stay at Atrium Health's Levine Children’s and another transfusion. Kenneth missed the homecoming dance, sporting events and a lot of other things that year. Despite that, he doesn’t let sickle cell get the best of him.

“It’s hard,” he said. “But you just live your life. You make your story your story.”

Kenneth is continuing his education and volunteers with Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency. He works to give back to the community that has always provided him and his sister with the lifesaving blood products they need.

“Thank you to those who give blood,” he said. “Because without you, who knows when my time may end.”

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