Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness

Lubbock, TX -  Trashun Thomas loves everything a kid his age should love.

"I like to play basketball, ride bikes, play basketball, basically all outside stuff," Trashun said talking about hanging out with his friends.

But, his dad said when Tra was 6-months old something wasn't right

"It was very hard having a new born with him having a sickness and having to spend a lot of time here at the hospital," said Justin Compton, Trashun's Dad.

After that initial visit Tra's parents still didn't have an answer.

It took doctors nearly 2 years to finally discover that Tra had Sickle Cell Anemia. Which means unlike other kids his age, Tra's blood cell aren't the correct, circular shape.

"In sickle cell it is a C shape or crescent moon. They are very sticky, not flexible, they clump up, they pile up and block the blood flow in the blood stream," said Ashley Schock a Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Registered Nurse at Covenant Children's.

When that type of blood flow blockage happens a patient experiences intense and debilitating pain. Doctors refer to those episodes as pain crisis'.

"Whenever they're in a pain crisis they don't feel well enough to play or run or walk. They're usually in bed pretty much balled up in pain. So, we try to do fluids and pain medication to get them feeling as back to normal as possible," said Shock.

In addition to keeping patients properly hydrate to allow blood cells to flow properly, doctors also prescribe hydroxyurea.

"A child who has sickle cell, we try to maintain them with hydroxyurea, it's a medication they take to prevent a pain crisis," Shock Said.

But, even though they know why Tra was in so much pain Tra's dad says they have to be diligent to stop it from happening again.

"He's not a normal kid he can't go out and play all day. What we do is we let him go play for 30-minutes and then let him sit down.  We got to keep water and Gatorade and stuff like that for him," Compton said.

It's a rountine that's worked so far.  The last time Tra had a pain crisis was in 2015. Something Tra said he remembers well and wishes no one else had to go through.

But, he also offered some advice and hope for those who also suffer from sickle cell anemia.

"Don't give up, keep taking the medicine and you'll get healthy," Tra said.

Doctors can perform a blood test to check for hemoglobin S which is the defective form of hemoglobin that underlies sickle cell anemia.
Newborns are typically tested at the hospital shortly after birth.  However, the test is also available upon request from any Covenant location.

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