Young Sickle Cell Patients Tries To Teach Locals About The Disease

Thousands of Americans live with sickle cell disease. It’s a blood disorder that is very painful.

This disease often leads to deadly health complications, but very few people know about it. That’s why a young Richmond girl is trying to educate the public, even as she herself fights off the disease.

Jasmine China is 13-years-old and she’s been through a lot in her life time.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover. I mean you really can’t,” she said, as she sat down for an interview with 8news anchor Ava-joye Burnett.

“September of 2013, and I was ready to tell them, discharge me, throw the medicines away, and just let me be,” she says.

Sickle cell disease is a debilitating blood disorder. It causes excruciating pain.  It’s the most commonly inherited disease in the U.S., but very few people know about it.

“I get frustrated, not because it’s a lot of work, but I don’t want to be sick anymore,” says Jasmine

So Jasmine along with her mom’s support is trying to get the word out. Jasmine has started a non-profit called Cells of Life: The Jasmine Cares Project.

“If my family didn’t talk about it, I wouldn’t expect anybody else to talk about it. I guess it didn’t matter to you until it mattered,” says Nicole China, Jasmine’s mother.

Jasmine eventually wants to organize a walk, a banquet and even a blood drive. This disease primarily affects black people, so it’s vital that African Americans donate blood to help with transfusions.

Jasmine’s doctor, India Sisler works at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Dr. Sisler works  with some of the youngest living with the disease.

“These kids are awesome, they are amazing, and when you get to see what they go through every day, it’s humbling,” says Dr. Sisler

The average life expectancy for someone with the disease is less than 50 years old. Dr. Sisler says blood donations, especially from African Americans can literally save a life.

“Occasionally we do lose a patient before adulthood which is always really hard,” says Dr. Sisler.

“How does that affect you personally?” Ava-joye Burnett asked  Dr. Sisler.

“It makes me go home and hug my kids really tight,” says Dr. Sisler.

“That’s why I love Dr. Sisler, she put herself in the patient’s shoes,” says Jasmine.

Even in between hospital visits Jasmine finds time to work.

“Not for me so much, but for the next child and the next child and the next child that comes along,” says Jasmine.

On May 2nd, the Sickle Cell Association of Richmond-OSCAR, in partnership with SCA: Bike Committee and the Ladies of Elegance, Inc, will hold its seventh annual Unity Ride for Sickle Cell Disease.

The ride starts in Petersburg and ends in Richmond. Registration begins at 9 a.m. at 301 Halifax Street in Petersburg, Va.

 

For more information, contact Sandee Smith, the SCA Committee Chairwoman at 804-400-5473.

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