Memories of classical ballet performances dance in Wanda Sihanath’s head when she thinks about her childhood in Elgin, Illinois. She remembers balancing at the barre to Beethoven and pirouetting to Vivaldi.Even though it rarely affected her dance lessons, she also remembers being sick — very sick.Sihanath, now 22, was diagnosed as a young child with the genetic blood disorder beta thalassemia. She was treated with occasional blood transfusions, which became monthly when she turned 14.”I knew for a fact I was sick and I definitely wasn’t normal like every other kid, but it never really personally affected me,” said Sihanath, now a graduating senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Arizona State University.

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