UPATOI, GA (WTVM) - A 15-year-old girl from Upatoi is about to donate bone marrow to her brother. This will make Kalei Swanier's second time giving the gift of life to a sibling, making the transplant a rare happening.
She will donate her bone marrow to her 16-year-old brother Joshua Swanier on July 5. Joshua was born with sickle cell, an incurable disease affecting the red blood cells. For the last two years, his condition has gotten worse, causing excruciating pain and several hospital stays.
Joshua Swanier is a typical teenager. He likes playing basketball and baseball, but those hobbies have taken a back seat due to his illness.
"He's been constantly in and out of the hospital to the point he needs hip replacement surgery. He's having problems with his knees," says Joshua's mother, Dr. Cheryl Swanier.
Cheryl Swanier says doctors have said her son's condition is not going to get any better, .and his only hope for the incurable disease that almost 200,000 other Americans get each year, is the bone marrow transplant. That's where his sister Kalei steps in. She will donate the life-saving bone marrow to Joshua to hopefully put a stop to his frequent hospital visits.
Kalei was also a bone marrow donor for her older sister, Anna Swanier, 11 years ago. Anna Swanier also has sickle cell. She is now 19 years old and is doing well.
Joshua will remain in the hospital's care until mid-August. He checked into Egleston's Hospital for Children in Atlanta Tuesday to begin extracting bone marrow from his body using chemotherapy.
The Swanier family has set up a GoFundMe account for those who would like to support during the difficult time.