This Christmas will be extra special for one Midstate family, and there's something you can easily do to help families just like this one.
Makayla Claussen has been fighting a life-threatening immune disorder for most of the past year, and we are very happy to report she's making great progress.
"It's amazing what prayer and support can do. It helped me get through everything," Claussen said.
For nine months, she has been fighting HLH and T-cell lymphoma. When we first met her last summer, doctors hoped chemotherapy would do the trick.
But she wasn't getting better, and late in August had to undergo a stem cell transplant.
Since then, she's been in and out of the hospital a few times but overall is making great progress.
"No disease, no infection, no bacteria. Nothing has been found on any of my PET scans. Everything is looking great," Claussen said.
She recently celebrated another milestone and was able to go out in public again.
"It's like graduating high school and going to college," she said. "You get your freedom back."
That freedom meant finishing up finals at the University of Tennessee.
She had to take "incompletes" in three classes when she became sick, so when doctors gave her the green light, she went to Knoxville and aced all three tests.
Claussen said she's already hoping to return full time next fall, but for now she's just happy to be home.
"It's going to be the first holiday since March that I've been home," she said.
Over the past several months, Claussen has needed several blood donations, and you have a chance to make a difference for another family this holiday season.
Channel 4 is teaming up with the American Red Cross for several blood drives in Middle Tennessee on Friday.
We'll be giving away a special Snowbird giveaway item to donors, while supplies last.
Here's a list of the locations:
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