During her sophomore year, Claussen was diagnosed with secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). The rare and potentially fatal autoimmune disease occurs in one out of 1.2 million people worldwide.
As if fighting a rare disease wasn’t enough, Claussen later learned that she also had cancer—stage four non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma.
Four months after her diagnosis, Claussen received a stem cell transplant from a donor in Germany—a one in 27 million match. The transplant saved her life and she was able to return to UT several months later.
Her story struck a chord with the community, sending more than 5,000 people to read her story on Tennessee Today. Local media outlets were on campus before her graduation to capture the moment she met Claudia Reverts, the donor whose stem cells saved her life.