Sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease
By: Tiffany Sisson
Spending quality time together with her family is something 11-year-old Tayler Campbell looks forward to. It's time that's not promised because of an illness inherited from her parents. "I'm just a regular child who happens to have sickle cells," explained Tayler.
Sickle Cell Anemia is a serious disease in which the body makes abnormally shaped red blood cells. Normal cells are smooth and round like a doughnut without a hole. They move easily through blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In Sickle Cell Anemia, the body produces red blood cells that are shaped like a sickle, or crescent. These sickle cells are hard and sticky, and they don't move easily through blood vessels.
"Hers happen to be in her lungs. She has asthma due to the sickle cells gathering together and causing a lot of damage in her lung," explained Tiffany Campbell, Tayler's mother.
Tiffany and Waymon have a sickle cell trait. The parents passed the gene onto Tayler. They were delivered the news soon after Tayler was born. "And then 6 months later, her hands swell up huge and she couldn't hold a bottle, she couldn't crawl," said Tiffany.
As Tayler became older, she developed acute chest syndrome, pneumonia, and at age seven, Tayler was hit hard with a stroke. "Like someone was hitting my stomach with a bat," said Tayler.
"When she gets sick, it's just devastation. You just feel sad. I'm like bawling all the time cause I don't know if this is gonna be the last time," said Tiffany.
To keep healthy, she makes trips to Children's Hospital in St. Louis every five weeks for blood transfusions, four units each time. "The goal is to keep her sickle cell blood below 50 percent," said Tiffany.
Tayler's best bet at a successful transfusion will come from blood donated by an African American. That race has rare blood types with unique antibodies. Problem is, too few blacks donate blood. "It's some kind of phobia. Something that they have. I'm like, you could be saving my daughter's life. So, get over it! Get over it quick, cause we really do need this," urged Tiffany.
The Charles Drew blood donation campaign honors an African American doctor whose research made great strides in the study of blood and transfusions. February 1st - 10th, starting Black History Month, black donors can help children like Tayler survive.