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Ben Davis student battles health condition while attending school

Overcoming a chronic health condition in the classroom

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new school year can be exciting for students, but for those with health conditions, it could be another story.

Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center is where Xzayveon Garner, 15, has started his freshman year. His teachers know about his sickle cell anemia diagnosis, but it’s a topic he’s kept quiet about to his classmates.

“They might understand what’s happening because maybe in their family they might have a diagnosis too,” Garner said.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited trait where red blood cells become hard, get stuck, and clog the blood flow.

“It’s kind of hard because you’d be going in pain most of the time,” the freshman said. “Like when it’s raining or when it’s cold you got to take your medicine, go to the hospital, get checked out, and get blood drawn.”

He gets blood transfusions every five weeks, is in and out of hospitals, had 13 collapsed lungs, and been in the intensive care unit multiple times. His health condition has made him miss more school than he’d like.

Garner was introduced to Steve Yockey with the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center. He helped come up with an education plan for Garner.

“There’s accommodations that not all kids have, obviously, and by letting them know these accommodations are out there it evens the playing field for them on a daily basis,” Yockey said.

A big part of his job is the acting liaison between the school and Garner’s needs.

His mother, Shannon Garner, said she carried the sickle cell anemia trait, but didn’t know until her son was diagnosed at 2 months old.

“It’s hurtful to see a 2-month-old baby just screaming in pain and there’s nothing you can do besides sit there and watch,” Shannon Garner said. “You know, with him having sickle cell sometimes people think, ‘Oh, he’s sick all the time,’ but I’m a parent that pushes. I let him do whatever he wants. I’m not going to stop him. But, he has migraines as well. So with his migraines and with the sickle cell he’s also a stroke risk.”

Garner does not let his diagnoses stop him from continuing his education. In fact, he’s already started college courses to get a head start on his future.