St. Jude patient Mya, age 10, sickle cell disease

Mya takes flight

This year, St. Jude patient Mya, who is being treated for sickle cell disease, was selected to have a FedEx plane named after her at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.®

 

Susie has worked at FedEx for more than 24 years. She’s a dispatcher in the District Transport Center, helping to send out FedEx trucks to move freight all over the world. She enjoys her work and she appreciates that FedEx is more than just a business — it’s also a company dedicated to helping give back.

And one of the places FedEx gives back to is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which holds special meaning for Susie’s family.

St. Jude is helping to save her granddaughter Mya’s life.

Mya is an outgoing, friendly girl who wants to work at St. Jude when she grows up, so she can help kids like St. Jude has helped her.

Mya is an outgoing, friendly girl who wants to work at St. Jude when she grows up, so she can help kids like St. Jude has helped her.

Ten-year-old Mya is undergoing treatment at St. Jude for sickle cell disease.

About 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell disease, an inherited disorder that causes red blood cells to become hard and crescent-shaped, instead of soft and round. The sickle-shaped cell blocks blood flow, causing intense pain, stroke, a need for blood transfusions, and a shortened life.

The average life expectancy for a person with sickle cell disease remains in the mid-40s. 

 

“Mya was a preemie,” Susie said. “She weighed two pounds when she was born and was in the NICU for several months. As soon as we learned she had sickle cell disease, she became a St. Jude patient.”

St. Jude is taking a major step in building its sickle cell program by expanding the research focus beyond treating symptoms to seeking a cure. St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell disease programs in the country, where 850-900 patients are treated annually.

ALSAC president and CEO Rick Shadyac poses with St. Jude patient Mya, her grandmother and a FedEx executive as Mya has a FedEx plane named after her at the Purple Eagle ceremony during the FedEx St. Jude Classic pro-am at TPC Southwind in Memphis Tenn. on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

ALSAC President and CEO Rick C. Shadyac Jr. (left) poses with St. Jude patient Mya, her grandmother and a FedEx executive during the unveiling of the Purple Eagle plane.

Each year, a St. Jude patient who is the child of a FedEx employee is chosen to have a plane named after them.

Since 1986, FedEx has donated nearly $38 million for St. Jude kids, and been a steadfast partner through the FedEx St. Jude Classic® (FESJC), which has featured golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson. 

When Mya learned FedEx was naming the Purple Eagle plane for her, which is displayed at this June’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, her reaction was priceless. 

"Mya said, ‘Nana, does that mean I can go anywhere I want, whenever I want?’" Susie said. "And I said, 'Well, it’s not that kind of plane.' We laughed. She’s ecstatic. The whole family is. It’s such an honor."

Mya laughs with FedEx executives during the naming of the Purple Eagle plane

Mya laughs with FedEx executives during the naming of the Purple Eagle plane.

Mya had surgery to remove her spleen when she was 3 years old, and she has been hospitalized for pain crises. She takes two different drugs, penicillin and hydroxyurea, daily, and visits St. Jude for monthly checkups.

“Mya is starting to understand sickle cell disease,” Susie said. “She’s beginning to realize the signs of a pain crisis, and she’s learning what she can do to help herself. Her nurses are great, always letting her know what they’re doing. St. Jude has been great about educating Mya and our whole family.”

 
 

Knowing FedEx supports St. Jude means so much. I’m proud to work at FedEx because they help St. Jude, and St. Jude wants to find cures. We hope and pray that through the research happening at St. Jude, cures will be found for sickle cell and other diseases.

Susie, St. Jude patient Mya's grandmother

 

Mya is an outgoing, friendly girl who wants to work at St. Jude when she grows up, so she can help kids like St. Jude has helped her.

Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.

When you donate monthly, your gift means families, like Mya's, never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

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