When Audrey was six months pregnant, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital tested her to determine whether her unborn daughter, Courtney, would be born with sickle cell disease. The disease had killed Audrey’s nephew, and the memories of the pain he suffered haunted her.
The tests on Courtney came back positive for 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, organ damage or death.
When Courtney was 2 months old, St. Jude doctors started her on drug treatment. She takes hydroxyurea, a medication that causes the body to produce healthy cells. Courtney, who visits St. Jude monthly, is thriving.
She loves to act, sing, design clothes and dance.