Treating sickle cell disease

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St. Jude patient Donovan may have sickle cell disease, but he's still able to enjoy the activities he loves, thanks to St. Jude.


When Donovan was born, his family learned he suffered from sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become hard and sickle-shaped, instead of soft and round. Children and adults with the disease may experience symptoms that range from severe pain to strokes, pneumonia and organ damage.

Donovan was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where his treatment included penicillin twice daily to combat infection. During these visits, doctors monitored his development and did blood work. “We’re grateful because Donovan’s sickle cell disease is very mild,” said his mother, Shannon. “Sickle cell disease can be incredibly painful, but St. Jude helps keep the pain at bay.”

When Donovan turned 5 years old, he was able to stop taking penicillin. He now visits St. Jude just twice a year. He’s looking forward to starting second grade in the fall, and his favorite things about school are recess, gym, art and music. Donovan likes SpongeBob SquarePants® and playing video games.

“St. Jude continues to hold a huge place in our hearts,” Shannon said. “I truly believe God has His hand over the staff, patients and researchers of this great facility. St. Jude is a place where miracles happen each and every day.” 

In honor of World Sickle Cell Day (June 19), we recognize patients like Donovan and the treatment they receive from St. Jude. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.