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Giving thanks for progress during an often-challenging journey to good health

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Rockford, Illinois (KTIV) -- On Thanksgiving, one family is extremely grateful.

It has been an often-challenging journey for a young man who was born in Sioux City, and now live in Illinois. However, things are looking up.

We recently caught up with LaKeshia Wingo, Malik Byrd's mother, to find out how he's doing since our story about him earlier this year.

"Stella: We are honored to be joined by LaKeisha Wingo, who is a Sioux City native and joins us from Rockford, Illinios. Thank you so much LaKeisha for giving us some of your time today.

LaKeisha Wingo: No problem, thanks for having me.

Stella: We updated our community with how your son Malik is doing in July, and we will catch up with what he has been up to since, but can you familiarize us with Malik's story, for those of us who may not know it.

LaKeisha: Malik was born with what is called Sickle Cell Anemia. It is characterized by its pain crises so he has lived through quite a few pain crises, which require blood transfusions, hospitalizations, oxygen treatments. It was quite the ordeal, but he was blessed to have what is called a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant and since then, he has been cured of Sickle Cell, but that did cause some damage to his body. He has quite a bit of pain in his right hip. We are anticipating a hip replacement surgery and that will happen as soon as he is no longer taking the anti-rejection medication that he takes because of the bone marrow transplant. He is in school, attending 100% remotely. And it is exciting for him to have his first year were he will have perfect attendence, small victories that we cherish and we celebrate.

Stella: At the begining of the year, he celebrated his golden birthday, 16, and you told us about how funny he is. How is he day to day? How is his attitude, and is he hanging in there like you are and the rest of your family?

LaKeisha: You know, he is. Malik has a small group of friends who keep him grounded. They call him. They pray for him. They pray with him. They check on him and they were with him throughout the entire journey. And I appreciate them and the upbringing they've had and I really commend their parents for raising such beautiful children. And he has siblings and also cousins who keep him energized and they bring out the best in him and they can tell when he is feeling kind of down. His legs do give out on him, but that doesn't stop him from doing the things he loves to do. There are some things that he was not able to do while he had Sickle Cell. One of those is playing basketball, just simply shooting hoops, you know, standing without his cane, shooting hoops and just enjoying some of the small things that some of us take for granted. You've got to see this process through.

Stella: I know there was a timeline for the hip replacement, but he definitely has to be ready for that hip replacement, so what's next?

LaKeshia: Next is getting him across that stage. He has definitely missed out on quite a bit of instructional education on this journey. And he is working very hard to stay on task and to graduate with class. That was something we've said since day one, you know, you've got these obstacles and we have an entire school year to make up, but you know you can do it. And he is working very hard to do it and he has a tutor who believes in him and advocates for him and I really appreciate her so that is what is next. We have the hip replacement that we are looking forward to and Malik graduating from high school.

Stella: Those are wonderful milestones and you are a champion. You are so strong LaKeshia. We appreciate you spending time with us and updating Malik's condition. Our best to Malik and the rest of your family. We admire your strength. Thank you.

Stella Daskalakis

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