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Indianapolis mother gives 13-year-old son with sickle cell disease a 2nd chance at life

Myles Glass has spent the past several years living life on the sidelines in a wheelchair, wishing for a better day. That day came in November 2020.

INDIANAPOLIS — A 13-year-old boy living with sickle cell disease has been given a second chance at life, thanks to his mother.

Myles Glass has been through more in his young life than most adults. For the past few years, Glass has spent his days in and out of Riley Hospital for Children.

"[I] kind of have to look on the bright side of things. Being in the hospital, I meet new nurses and kids who go through what I go through. It's kind of hard to go through that at my age," Glass said.

He was diagnosed with sickle cell disease as a newborn. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans make up the largest number of people with the disease in the U.S.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition that impacts red blood cells and causes pain, infections and extreme fatigue. These symptoms keep Glass from doing things he loves.

"For him, it's kind of like we have to have him in a bubble," said his mother, Melissa Sanders.

Credit: WTHR/Logan Gay
Myles Glass spent most of his time in a wheelchair due to sickle cell disease but is getting a second chance at life after his mom, Melissa Sanders, donated bone marrow for a stem cell transplant.

Glass has spent the past several years living life on the sidelines in a wheelchair, wishing for a better day.

"[I would] hope that one day, I can do what kids do, like playing football and basketball," Glass said.

That day came in November 2020 when his mother donated bone marrow for a stem cell transplant, curing him of sickle cell disease.

"I was able to give him a second life with being a donor so that he can somewhat be a normal kid," Sanders said. 

Riley Hospital for Children Dr. Seethal Jacob, who has been working with Glass and his family, said one baby every two minutes is born with sickle cell disease. She also said studies show there is a clear disparity for funding for this disease.

"There's been a lot of neglect when it comes to the disease itself. I think it's important to pay attention to the population it affects. I think that likely tells the story why sickle cell disease has been a neglected disease for so long," Jacob said.

Credit: WTHR/Logan Gay
Myles Glass was barely able to get out of his wheelchair before his mom, Melissa Sanders, became his stem cell donor. Now, he is making strides in his physical therapy at Riley Hospital for Children.

Despite his challenges, Glass is staying positive and making strides in his physical therapy at Riley Hospital for Children.

"He's already been through harder things than most people will ever go through. I think anything else in life is going to be a piece of cake," said his physical therapist, Sarah Johnson.

"This gives me a glimpse of hope that even though you may have been diagnosed with this disease, it's not the end of the world," Sanders said. 

For Glass, this is just the beginning. He hopes his story encourages other people living with sickle cell disease to keep moving forward.

"I know it's hard now, but you'll get through it. You'll be able to do what kids do your own age," Glass said.

Click here for more information on sickle cell disease and treatment options.

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