Imagine spending the first 16 years of your life feeling like you have a mild case of the flu. A Rutherford County teen doesn't have to imagine. He's lived it.
But thanks to a recent transplant, he'll spend his first Thanksgiving feeling healthy.
Since birth, Karon Patel has been living with a rare blood disorder that literally could have taken his life on any given day. He's been relegated to a life filled with pill bottles and robbed of the opportunities most kids take for granted.
"I've always wanted to play football in middle school, but I always had this port. Football is a physical sport, so if that ever got hit, it would have been a major problem," he said.
In June, that all changed when doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant and Karon found out his older brother was a match.
Last month, the family discovered that Karon's blood disorder had been completely eliminated. For the first time in 16 years, he now feels good, is gaining weight and is growing like a weed.
"I used to worry about my son's future. He's had a hard time for the past 15 years," said mother Sheila Patel.
And Karon said he's indebted to his brother.
"I'll probably get him a Christmas present," Karon said.
It wasn't until last year that doctors even began performing bone marrow transplants in connection with this disorder.
Karon's case is one of the first successful ones in the country, and doctor's say he's permanently cured.
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