When Jorrell Campbell met Adrienne, their loving relationship continued to where she gave birth to their daughter. They were both ecstatic to start a new family together, but they weren’t expecting the challenges that were immediately ahead.
“Our daughter was born with sickle cell disease,” Jorrell explained. “We knew that Adrienne dealt with sickle cell disease, but we didn’t think our daughter was at risk. Turns out that I carried the sickle cell trait.”
What Jorrell didn’t know is that he was a carrier of the sickle cell trait. Because a person who carries the sickle cell trait may not experience symptoms, they may be unaware that they are a carrier.
However, they are still able to pass the abnormal sickle cell gene along to their children. A simple blood test from your doctor can determine if you are a carrier and at risk of passing along the abnormal gene. Unfortunately, this test was not conducted prior to Adrienne conceiving their child.
“Now that we understand what we’re dealing with, I’m having to care for Adrienne as well as our baby,” said Jorrell. “I help them through their crises, hospital stays, and lot of prayer because it takes a lot out of you to watch people you love suffer.”
A sickle cell crisis consists of a painful episode that can begin suddenly in a person who has sickle cell disease. When sickle-shaped red blood cells clump together and block small blood vessels, it disrupts carrying blood to certain organs, muscles, and bones resulting in mild to severe pain. Jorrell is the primary caregiver for Adrienne and their daughter and he’s had to ramp up his sickle cell disease education rather quickly.
“There are so many support groups, online groups, studies, and what not,” Jorrell confesses. “At first I didn’t know where to begin, but I had to slow down and kind of go through what made sense for us. I didn’t even know they had support groups for people who care for family members with sickle cell. At first I felt all alone, but it didn’t take long to see that there’s a community of people in town and online that are here to help.”
In addition to local resources, supportive family members (e.g, Jorrell’s parents, cousins, etc.), and hands-on experience – Jorrell has built an inner circle of people willing to help him, Adrienne, and their daughter when crises arise as well as developing sickle cell therapies to help reduce pain and improve their quality of life.
“I’m here for my family and I’m open to any and all treatments that can help them get the most out of life,” Jorrell concludes. “Sickle cell isn’t going anywhere and neither are we.”