EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (WLS) -- Nearly two thousand babies are born with sickle cell disease, and there is no universal cure.
Eric Boon Jr., 15, from East Chicago leans on his family and his faith to help him live with the disease.
"Life as a sickle cell patient. It's like it can get painful, but you can get through it no matter," Boon Jr. said.
Boone Jr. was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at birth.
RELATED: Cancer survivor keeps organizing blood drives during COVID pandemic despite personal risks
"I found out, prior to him being born that my husband also has the trait. And I knew that I had the trait, but it was a conversation that he and I had never had. And so when Eric Jr. was born, they do the screening and they do all of the blood work. And so they told us that he did have sickle cell," said Tereka Boone, Boone Jr.'s mother.
Boone Jr. has had to endure blood transductions, medications and several major surgeries. He needed to have his spleen removed at 5 years old and his gallbladder removed at 13. His parents said it is hard to watch their child go through so much but remain grateful.
"We have cried sleepless nights and we have walked the floors. He has no idea how many times we have walked into that room, and we just went to God in prayer for him, just wanted God to give him life. Every birthday is a blessing in my eyes because a lot of people don't make it to see this age," said Eric Boone, Boone Jr.'s father.
RELATED: The ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive
The Boone family said the prayer and the help of strangers through blood donations have helped sustain Boone Jr. This has allowed him to remain active and be a normal kid.
"I love baseball, basketball, I watch sports, and I love spending time with my family," Boone Jr. said.
"You given this gift for blood, that gives you life unless you donate it, you give someone else, a chance to have life. I'm grateful, and I encourage you and motivate you because you never know if you're going to need it one day,"
Family of East Chicago 15-year-old living with sickle cell disease grateful for blood donations