Six months ago, an Antioch High School graduate learned she was in for the fight of her life. She faced a serious medical hurdle that eventually required a stem cell transplant.
Makayla Claussen graduated from Antioch high school in 2011, was homecoming queen, played soccer and went on to attend the University of Tennessee.
But a bout with mono earlier this year revealed an extremely low blood count that led doctors to discover a life-threatening immune disorder known as HLH along with T-cell lymphoma.
That, doctors say, can lead to serious problems.
"A key element of the immune system all of a sudden becomes dysfunctional and opens the door to all kinds of infections. It wouldn't bother you or me because our immune system is intact," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
After months of chemo, Claussen was still very sick. Then, in August, doctors determined she'd need a stem cell transplant.
So, on the morning of Aug. 23, she had the life-saving procedure.
Since then, there have been ups and downs, including time spent in the ICU, but nearly 50 days after the transplant, Claussen is resting at home and working to regain her strength.
Before the stem cell transplant, Claussen required frequent blood transfusions. She and her family said they know the importance of these life-saving gifts and encourage others to donate.