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She may not have lived to see her own graduation, her brother made sure she did

Just a year ago, it was unclear if one student would make it through her illness, to graduate with her classmates. But her twin brother made it all possible.

NEW ORLEANS — Graduation last week was extra special for two seniors at Sophie B. Wright High School.

Just a year ago, it was unclear if one student would make it through her illness, to graduate with her classmates. But her brother, who's her best friend, made it all possible.

Twins Elijah and Naja Carter have been inseparable since birth, but the two new high school graduates could have never dreamed just how close they would be today.

“Always close. I say God gave me twins for a reason, and I think it was for him to save her,” said Athenna Stewart, the twins’ mother.

When Naja was only 12-years-old, doctors thought her shortness of breath, hives, bruises, and loss of appetite were from allergies or asthma, but they soon learned it was a type of blood and bone marrow cancer called acute myeloid leukemia.

“I didn't know kids my age could have a sickness like that. Like why me? Like I'm so little,” Naja Clark thought at the time of diagnosis.

She got better, but then last year it came back. She needed a bone marrow transplant. Elijah was her match. He had to give up playing football to do it.

“It was just like pain really. It just hurt. You can't bend over. You can't really sit down too long. I tried playing football again, and it would hurt, but just got to push through it,” said Elijah Carter.

He still went to practices to be there for the team.

“To me, we had a hero walking amongst us, with great humility, and pride, because to be honest, most of us don't get a chance to save another human's life,” said Dr. Sharon Clark, school director of Sophie B. Wright High School.

“It made me feel like a big brother, even though she's the oldest. It makes me feel good to see her out of the hospital,” said Elijah.

“He keeps this quiet eye over her, allowing her to have her freedom, but he's always somewhere near to make sure,” said Dr. Clark.

Giving to others clearly runs in this family. Their mom had a baby for her sister, because she was unable to. Athenna says it comes from her grandmother.

“She raised us well, and taught us to be, you know, just give of yourself. Just give of yourself. Don't be selfish,” remembered Stewart.

Naja is well now and is going to UL in the fall to study forensic pathology. And in the spirit of making a career out of helping others, Elijah will be going to Grambling State to become a social worker. And for the rest of her life, Naja can tease him, because along with his lifesaving bone marrow, he passed on to her, not only his blood type, but his allergies, and food allergies as well.

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