HIGHLAND SPRINGS, Va. (WRIC) — September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Sickle Cell Disease is a debilitating blood disorder that can lead to serious health complications and excruciating pain. One of the area’s youngest patients spent her Labor Day helping others during those times when they need it the most.
“Too many to count. Way over a hundred,” Jasmine China explains blood transfusions have become a way of life for her.
The 14-year-old has been battling the disease since she was born, and transfusions are one of the most effective treatments.
To build up the blood supplies and spirits of other patients, Jasmine organized a blood drive at Restoration Fellowship Christian Center in Highland Springs. One by one, men and women rolled up their sleeves and stuck out their arms in a show of support. Their blood is crucial to Sickle Cell patients.
“It can be anything, it can be anywhere,” Jasmine says of the condition. “You miss a lot of school, you miss being with your family, you miss a lot of stuff because you never know when it’s going to happen.”
Sickle Cell is an inherited disease changing normal, round red blood cells into crescent moon shapes. They can block blood vessels and cause extreme pain. There is no cure.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, the disease affects an estimated 2,500 to 4,500 people living in the Commonwealth. The average life expectancy is less than 50-years-old. Sickle Cell predominantly affects African Americans, but it is also becoming more common in the Hispanic population and people of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent.
Jasmine understands the pain that every patient has gone through. It’s why she organized the blood drive.
“You never know when you will need it, so you want to help other people so other people will want to help you.”