Mickeelah Foster is a bright 11-year-old girl, working hard at school and enjoying life. She also has sickle cell disease, which can be difficult to manage. But she,s not letting it stop her.
Diagnosed at birth, Foster spends most days like any other normal middle school student. But there are other days when her symptoms cause unpredictable and uncontrollable pain.
"It's hard for a mother to see her child in pain and not be able to do anything about it," said mom Lukreesha Grant. "When she has her flare ups, it usually takes about a week for her to leave the hospital."
Sickle cell disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder, where the red blood cells become hard and sticky and take a C-shape form similar to a sickle. These cells die early, causing anemia -- a constant shortage of red blood cells -- and the cells can get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
"Mickeelah has sickle cell disease type HbSS, which is the most complicated form of the disease," said Hector Rodriguez-Cortes, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Unit at Salah Foundation Children's Hospital. "Her regular checkups help us prevent complications and adjust her treatment accordingly."
A couple of years ago, Foster had to undergo monthly blood transfusions after her monthly labs showed an increased risk for stroke. Although her school offers reasonable accommodation to help Foster cope with missed days, it still requires her to be extra focused upon her return. Despite it all, Foster has an outstanding report card and hopes to be a doctor when she grows up.
"Our goal with sickle cell disease treatment is to provide the best quality of life possible," said Rodriguez-Cortes. "It is a chronic disease that will not go away, but with proper care, Foster can have a full life, and that is what we want to give her."