Imagine what it's like to depend on others 24/7... not for emotional strength, but for physical survival. That's what life is like for Tierra McDonald. She's like any other young woman. She enjoys spending time with family, fashion, and friends. But her lifestyle is what makes her unique.
"Blood transfusions are so important because I'm a sickle cell patient and I have them every month," McDonald said.
According to mayoclinic.org, with sickle cell anemia, red blood cells become rigid and sticky and shaped like crescent moons. The cells can get stuck in blood vessels, which can block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.
"It's painful when I'm in a crisis, it's real painful, it's indescribable, it's like arthritis nonstop," McDonald said.
Tierra says she feels better after IV fluids, pain medication and blood transfusions.
"When I need a blood transfusion I feel weak, I stay real weak. I would cry my whole crisis. That's how painful it was," she said.
There are many things Tierra cannot do...
"Now it's summertime, I would love to go swimming every day, but the cold water would put me in a crisis."
But that does not stop her from living her life to the fullest. She spends her days surrounded by family, friends, and a supportive boyfriend.
"He's right there by my side."
She thanks her mother who refuses to leave her side.
"She's always right there with me," she said. "She monitors my medicine-- she's great; my mom is always there for me."
Tierra notes the importance of blood donation.
"If it wasn't so important, I wouldn't be here today. So, if anyone could get out and go give blood, please give it, because it saves tons of lives. You don't realize how many lives it saves."