Sickle cell awareness

By SHAWANDA HOLSEY

Serena Thomas is grateful to the doctors who saved her son’s life after he recently had a sickle cell crisis that almost proved to be fatal.

Thomas is a 26-year-old resident of Macon, Ga. She has two boys between the ages of three and four, who both have the sickle cell disease. Both boys have been hospitalized numerous times due to the illness.

Thomas is trying to raise awareness about this disease, so that other young mothers, like herself, can be aware of the seriousness of the illness. She volunteers at the Hope for Kids on a weekly basis hoping to give back to the foundation that helped save her children’s lives. Hope for Kids is a service The Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center of Central Georgia offers.

An estimated 100,000 people live with the sickle cell disease in the U.S. and millions are affected globally.

“I realized that I had to get involved if I really wanted to understand this illness. I now live to spread awareness and help other young mothers whom are battling this silent killer,” Thomas, a sickle cell advocate, said.

Thomas says the reality of the disease’s seriousness hit her when her three year old had a crisis, and his spleen swelled to the point where they thought it would burst. He was transferred to the Hope for Kids, where a hemoglobin specialist helped save his life.

Thomas says the medical center set her up with a counselor who helped her to cope with the challenges associated with the disease.

“Serena is so passionate about learning to be an advocate for the sickle cell disease,” Monica Johnson, Thomas’ counselor, said. “She has truly been an inspiration to other children and parents and has helped them to cope and adjust to life changes associated with this disease.”

Thomas says that although a cure hasn’t been found yet, she and others are advocating and promoting this disease and they will not stop until a cure has been found.

April is national sickle cell advocacy month. Let us think about those that are affected by this silent disease.

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