Maddalynn and Maziya, sickle cell disease, with their mom, Theresa


Being a big sister is a huge responsibility. But Maziya takes it to a whole new level. Because she has the same blood disorder as her sister, Maddalynn, Maziya and her family were better able to help Maddalynn with her treatment.

When Maziya was born prematurely, blood tests revealed that she was also born with sickle cell disease, a chronic blood disorder. Her mom, Theresa, knew she carried the sickle cell trait, but didn't realize her husband carried the trait as well. Tiny Maziya stayed in a local hospital for two-and-a-half months, and then was transferred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for sickle cell treatment.

Maziya received a blood transfusion, and ongoing care has included a daily medication regimen of penicillin, vitamin D and hydroxyurea. Research conducted at St. Jude, which has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell disease programs in the country, showed that hydroxyurea — already in use for adult sickle cell patients — was safe and effective for use in infants and toddlers.

And St. Jude families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all they should worry about is helping their child live. Six years later, when Maziya’s little sister, Maddalynn, was born, the family was prepared when they learned she, too, had sickle cell disease. And they knew Maddalynn would receive world-class care at St. Jude, alongside her sister. 

St. Jude's sickle cell disease program

St. Jude has a deep and longstanding commitment to children with sickle cell disease. Scientists at the hospital have been researching the disease since the institution opened in 1962.

With more than 750 patients in its sickle cell program, St. Jude remains one of the leaders in the crusade to spare children the suffering this chronic disease causes. 


“We learned a lot with Maziya, and then it was easier for us with Maddalynn,” explained Theresa. “That’s what I love about St. Jude. If I don’t know what to do, I can call St. Jude. I call, they pick up the phone, and answer my questions step by step.”

Maziya is now 9 years old and doing well. She started reading at the age of 3, and her favorite subject is math. Maddalynn is 4 years old and likes to play with dolls and cars. Her ongoing treatment at St. Jude includes a daily penicillin regimen. Maziya helps her little sister with taking her medicine. “St. Jude helped us all learn about sickle cell and what to do,” said Theresa.

Help give hope to kids, like Maddalynn and Maziya, who are fighting life-threatening illnesses.

Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened more than 50 years ago. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.

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