Tuscaloosa Native Makes History Becoming Sickle Cell Free [Video]

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and this has to be the best news we could get this month. A Tuscaloosa native is officially Sickle Cell-free after being the first in Alabama to successfully take part in a haploidentical half match bone marrow transplant.

22-year-old JonTavius Lake is a Tuscaloosa native and took part in a clinical trial he discovered through research and his doctor. The process for JonTavius to become sickle cell-free took 6 weeks but that time could differ in others. My wife has sickle cell and I see first hand how painful the disease can be in those affected. I can only imagine the freedom JonTavius felt in a video he posted to Facebook as he rang the bell in the hospital to celebrate being sickle cell free. He posted, "As I rang that bell knowing that my sickle cell would be gone I couldn’t do anything but fall to my knee, cry and praise the one above. Only he knows all of the pain I been through my entire life."

Knowing those long days and nights in the hospital laying in pain are behind him, I know JonTavius is beyond happy about being sickle cell free. The process isn't completely over, as he has a year worth of meds to take to ensure he stays sickle cell free.

When I spoke to JonTavius about the procedure and finding a bone marrow match, he stressed the importance of African Americans signing up to be bone marrow donors. He wants to make sure "as many sickle cell patients as possible can have the same opportunity that I had to get the cure." Luckily, his father John Lake was a match and became his donor. Be The Match is a great place to visit if you're interested in being a bone marrow donor.

Instead of being in the hospital or in bed suffering from sickle cell pain, JonTavius can spend more time running his media company Power Up Vizuals. He's a videographer and is currently working on a documentary about his process becoming sickle cell free. Just about every moment has been recorded through this process and JonTavius plans to release this documentary to give people a better understanding of his process. That behind the scenes look will be amazing. I can't wait to see it!

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