TERRY, Miss. (WJTV) – September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates a 100,000 Americans have been born with the blood disease.
A Terry mother went the extra mile so her daughter could be called a sickle cell survivor. Now the duo want to use September to encourage families dealing with the disease to consider transplants. They also want the public to know that blood donations tremendously help patients who get frequent blood transfusions.
At just 3-months-old, Tykiera James was diagnosed with Sickle cell disease (SCD).
From then on she would live a life of pain and constant doctor’s visits. But that all changed when the woman who gave her life, changed her life.
James’ mother has always been her biggest supporter. She’s been there through the monthly blood transfusions and the days at home; because even going to school was sometimes too painful for her arms and legs.
“From being stressed out about testing…to maybe doing too much walking from class to class…with carrying the books because the books are so heavy,” Natasha James, Tykiera’s mom said.
Having SCD can make your blood cells block oxygen throughout your body. And it was taking a toll on Tykiera. So, when her doctor suggested an uncommon type of bone marrow transplant, her mom jumped at the chance to help. “With the [haploid] transplant, you can be 50% the donor. So it can be mom, dad, half brother, half sister,” she said. Typical transplants require donors with a higher compatibility.
“I said well, would you want the bone marrow transplant? And she told me yes. And I said well, why with the chance of you not being able to make it out? She said mama because I’ve never had the chance to have a normal life.”
Before the transplant, Tykiera went through radiation and 9 days of chemotherapy. But her mother wasn’t prepared for the pain she would experience on her end, “I just cried because just to realize this is what my child has been enduring all of her life…I just felt so bad.”
Because of her mother’s deed, Tykiera is on track to graduate from Terry High School in May. She eventually wants to attend UMMC and become a pediatrician.