Siblings Battle Sickle-Cell Disease Together
Taryn Walker and her 9-year-old brother, King, are flourishing at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, but the siblings haven’t had the easiest time getting there.
Both children were diagnosed with Sickle-Cell Disease and have relied heavily on local blood donors since they were babies.
“Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder of red blood cells wherein the cells contain an abnormal hemoglobin molecule which can alter the shape of the red blood cells, making them stiff and hindering their ability to pass through small blood vessels, leading to potential organ damage,” said Doctor Matthew Montgomery, Hoxworth Blood Center.
Taryn, a 12-year-old ballet major at SCPA, has been on transfusion therapy since she was just 7-months-old due to episodes of splenic sequestration (blood cells trapped in her spleen).
Though she was able to go without blood transfusions for a two-year period, she started them again after an ultrasound showed she was at risk for stroke: one possible complication of Sickle-Cell Disease.
King, a dance and band major at SPCA, is on transfusion therapy because he is underweight due to a high metabolism caused by his body working extra hard to make new red blood cells. He wasn’t able to fight off infections and was hospitalized frequently.
King is now on Apheresis Transfusion Therapy, which is done through Hoxworth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“For Taryn and King to have somewhat normal lives they require blood transfusions every four weeks,” said Charmelle Walker, the siblings’ mother. “Their red blood cells only last 14 to 21 days vs. a healthy kid’s red blood cells lasting 90 to 120 days.”
Charmelle says her children become very fatigued and sluggish by the beginning of week four.
“Thanks (to donors) for your continued effort to help others,” she said. “The need for blood donation is constant and your contribution is important for others to live healthy and normal lives.”
She wanted to emphasize what a great opportunity donors give to others by sacrificing their time and blood to help save lives.
Taryn and King wouldn’t have come as far as they have without the help of kind-hearted donors in the community.