MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Approximately 100,000 people in the United States are living with Sickle Cell Disease, including more than 4,000 South Carolinians.
A family from South Carolina says the genetic disorder impacts their everyday life.
“He is a swimmer. He loves swimming and of course, that can be a challenge with someone with sickle cell disease,” said Vesha Jamison who is the Sickle Cell Account Manager for the American Red Cross and a Parent Advocate.
Her son, Dreyland Jamison, was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at just four weeks old. “Receiving the news was kind of gut-wrenching,” said Jamison.
Now 11-year-old, his mother is still learning about the disease and how to care for her child who has it.
“It’s a long list of concerns and it’s ever-growing,” she said.
The disease causes red blood cells to harden and form a C-shape. Those cells can get caught in blood vessels and cause serious complications for patients.
“My son has been hospitalized quite a few times. We’ve had plenty of visits to the emergency room,” said Jamison.
Dreyland has received numerous blood transfusions, and for patients like him, a close blood type match is essential.
“4% of Blacks and African Americans make up our blood donors. We have to diversify the blood bank because you know those antigens that we carry, we need what I call ‘like’ blood,” said Jamison.
A disease that is limiting but not stopping children like Dreyland from doing what they love most — like swimming.
“This is a disease that is serious, you know, it is a debilitating disease. It is so challenging for those warriors who live with this on a daily basis,” said Jamison.
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