Deunta was born into a lifelong medical battle. When he was 2 weeks old, his family learned he had sickle cell disease, a chronic, inherited blood disorder that deforms red blood cells and can cause anemia, severe pain, organ damage and even death.
Deunta’s mother was distraught; her aunt died of complications from the same disease in her early 30s. But Deunta was referred quickly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude has taken a major step in its large sickle cell program by expanding the research focus beyond treating symptoms to seeking a cure. The hospital is conducting a high-tech study called the Sickle Cell Clinical Research and Intervention Program, geared toward better understanding how sickle cell disease progresses over time and providing valuable health screenings for patients into adulthood.
At St. Jude, Deunta began taking penicillin to combat his symptoms. Once he turned 2 years old, he began taking hydroxyurea, and his mom has seen great improvement. Now 4 years old, Deunta is a loving, playful, happy boy who knows his way around St. Jude like it’s his second home.
He visits St. Jude for medication, checkups and bloodwork every month. Like all St. Jude patients, Deunta receives this care free of charge. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.