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Lincoln mother fights for awareness of Sickle Cell Disease after losing son years ago

September is national Sickle Cell awareness month. Sickle Cell Disease is a rare blood disorder affecting 100,000 Americans.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - September is national Sickle Cell awareness month. Sickle Cell Disease is a rare blood disorder affecting 100,000 Americans. The CDC says one in every 365 African American babies is diagnosed with it at birth.

A Lincoln mother knows what it’s like to lose a son to the disease and now she fights for awareness.

“I miss him so much,” said Janice Kelley-Young.

This mom described her son, Sherdal, as a kind-hearted family man, “I still have videos of him playing video games with his nephew.”

On November 20, 2015, the day before Thanksgiving, Sherdal lost his fight with Sickle Cell Disease.

“When he was diagnosed they only gave him eight years," said Kelley-Young.

But when Sherdal was just three months old, this mom said she knew something wasn’t right, “When I went to pick him up, he just screamed.”

From that moment on, Sherdal spent his childhood in and out of doctors offices.

“I called the hospital and told them we were on our way,” added Kelley-Young.

Sickle Cell Disease can damage major organs, for Sherdal, his mom explained that he had the hip of a 75-year-old man.

“So, they did a total hip replacement on him when he was about 36,” she added.

As this mom feared for her child’s life, she said the same prayer over and over again, “God, please just give him one more day.”

Less than a week before his 40th birthday Sherdal passed away. Kelley-Young said she still has sweet memories though, “He said, ‘you did the best you could. You took me when I didn’t want to go to the hospital and I thank you for that.'”

To carry on his legacy, Kelley-Young spends her days connecting with Sickle Cell fighters and families from across the country.

“My promise to him was that I’d never give up. I would always fight for it,” explained Kelley-Young.

She said the morning Sherdal passed, three geese flew over the house. So, now every time she looks up, Kelley-Young said she thinks about what and who she’s fighting for, “We were driving on the interstate and these three geese flew over."

If you’re wondering how to help those with Sickle Cell Disease, the easiest way is by donating blood and bone marrow. You can schedule an appointment with the Nebraska Community Blood Bank by clicking here.

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