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Donovan was found to suffer from sickle cell disease shortly after his birth in 2006.
Before Donovan was even born, his parents knew there was a strong possibility that he would suffer from sickle cell disease, which is 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, organ damage or even death.
Because Donovan’s mother suffers from a rare form of sickle cell disease and his father carries the sickle cell trait, they prayed that they wouldn’t pass this life-threatening disease on to their unborn child. But shortly after Donovan’s birth, his parents were devastated when tests revealed that Donovan did indeed suffer from sickle cell disease. He was quickly referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude has one of the largest and most active sickle cell disease programs in the nation.
At St. Jude, Donovan was started on a treatment plan that included penicillin twice a day to combat infection and checkups every three months. 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. “The hardest part in all of all of this has been the times Donovan has had pain. Sickle cell disease can be incredibly painful and St. Jude helps keep the pain at bay.”
Donovan’s family is thankful for his medical team and for the donors who help support St. Jude. “The donations not only help children battling deadly cancers, they also help children with illnesses like sickle cell disease,” said Donovan’s mother. “Thank you and God bless your good heart for reaching out to give children like Donovan hope for a future free from pain.”
Donovan recently celebrated his fifth birthday, which included a milestone in his treatment. He no longer needs to take penicillin twice daily, and he now visits St. Jude just twice a year. Donovan is a bright, sociable boy who likes to put together puzzles, read and write.