GEORGETOWN — Tymia Green has spent countless hours in hospitals, battling sickle cell disease with 80 blood transfusions at the age of 15 — with subsequent blockages causing excruciating pain.
But Tymia doesn't use the disease as a crutch, she wants to be just like her fellow teens.
As a lifelong beauty pageant participant — even appearing on TLC's "Toddlers & Tiaras" at the age of 6 — she has always had to manage her health before and after competitions.
In 2017, she was hospitalized four days before a North Carolina pageant.
It wasn't going to stop her from competing, no way. Her mother, Susie Green, was nervous about Tymia competing, but she knew there was no convincing Tymia otherwise.
So, after her blood transfusion, Tymia left the hospital utilizing a walker, eventually competing with a fully swollen leg — bringing along plenty of stares and questions from other participants.
That's just Tymia, a two-time winner of the Miss South Carolina at the National American Miss pageant.
Sickle cell disease is a disorder where blood cells are shaped like crescent moons, causing them to stick together and block her blood vessels. These blockages, called crises, cause Tymia severe pain.
When these crises happen, Tymia may have to get a blood transfusion, which breaks up the blockages and allows blood to flow more freely in the body. The trick, though, is she never knows when a crises will happen, or if blood will be readily available if she needs a transfusion. One time she had to wait 10 hours for her blood to be found.
Susie knew she was a sickle cell carrier, and that any children she had would be at risk of the disease. Tymia is the only one of her four, soon to be five, with the disease, and Tymia's first crises happened when she was only two months old.
Getting the blood for a blood transfusion is only half the battle — the more blood transfusions someone has, the more antibodies their body develops.
"Her body has developed particular antibodies and they have to match (those in the blood) for her body to accept the blood and not reject it," Susie said.
Because of her disease, Tymia has been doing school virtually for the last year along with her other brothers and sisters. Tymia can get sick much easier than other children, and even before COVID-19, Susie was communicating with her teachers to make sure Tymia was as safe as possible from other sick children.
Though she loves spending time with her family, Tymia said she is definitely ready to get back in the classroom when its safe and be with her friends every day.
One blood donation can save up to three lives, according to The American Red Cross, and every two seconds in the United States, someone like Tymia needs blood. Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber recently presented Tymia with a Red Cross Month Proclamation, and Susie said she is grateful for the Red Cross because without them and the generous blood donations, Tymia would not be alive.
"Blood transfusions, to me, mean a lot because when I get it, it feels like I am me again, I can do anything," Tymia said. "And just knowing a person is just sitting in a chair for 15, 20 minutes giving their blood to someone like me, it means a lot."