Like many disorders, the effects of sickle cell disease can vary widely from patient to patient. For LaDonna Jordan, the painful and life-threatening symptoms associated with sickle cell disease began at age seven. Her father tried to wake her for school, but found her unable to get out of bed. “I was awake but I couldn’t move,” she said. “My eyes were rolling in the back of my head.” A visit to her pediatrician revealed a fever of 104. LaDonna was rushed to the emergency room.
The emergency room staff worked hard to bring down the fever. “The doctors were scared. They couldn’t break my temperature. They gave me ice bath after ice bath and it finally came down,” she said. LaDonna was hospitalized for three weeks with Acute Chest Syndrome (ACS), a common disorder for children with sickle cell disease. ACS affects the lungs, causing serious infections and decreased pulmonary function.
Frequent hospital stays are, unfortunately, a reality for patients with sickle cell disease. Over the years, LaDonna has been hospitalized for three blood clots in her lungs, two bouts of pneumonia, several surgeries and chronic pain. “When I go through a crisis, it’s like a throbbing pain that goes from my back to my head. It’s like a heartbeat,” she said. “You have to take care of it right then and there, because if you don’t take care of it, it spreads. It’s like a wildfire.”
LaDonna says that receiving a blood transfusion makes an enormous impact on how she feels. “Before I receive blood, I’ll be in a whole lot of pain. After I get the blood, I feel back to normal,” she said. “If I don’t have blood, I feel tired and I don’t want to do anything. After I get blood, I can clean the whole house!”
She encourages those who may be thinking of giving blood to take that first step. “You never know, one day it could be you or someone in your family. It’s very important to donate.” LaDonna is grateful for the LifeSouth donors who take the time to give blood. “I would like to thank each and every one who goes out and donates blood, because it helped me and it can help someone else. Thank you.”