As Jasmine tries to pick out the perfect outfit, she talks about her love of fashion and recounts the time she dressed her older brother up to look like Usher. She has been interested in fashion ever since she can remember, and like many fashionable 11-year-old girls, her favorite color is pink. With her bright, ear-to-ear smile and her infectious laugh, you’d never know that inside, Jasmine’s body is battling sickle cell anemia.Soon after Jasmine was born at MCV, she was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia, a blood disorder which is often hereditary. Sickle cell anemia affects hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body. The disorder causes red blood cells to change from their normal, disc-shape to stiff, curved cells. This unusual shape makes it more difficult for the cells to move through the blood stream, often clogging blood vessels and depriving the body’s tissues and organs of necessary oxygen.Additionally, fragile sickle cells break down more quickly than normal cells, causing anemia or a decreased number of red blood cells, which leads to the body feeling weak and tired. Kids with sickle cell anemia can also experience complications from impaired blood circulation and are at a higher risk for certain infections and stroke. To prevent and treat painful blood blockages, patients occasionally need transfusions of healthy red blood cells. In Jasmine’s case, she visits the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for transfusions two to three times a month.
“CHoR is so convenient and close by which makes her frequent visits to the hospital much easier,” said Jasmine’s mom, Nicole. “We are thankful we are less than five minutes away from excellent care. Everything she has ever needed to face this disorder has been right here.”
Jasmine’s condition can potentially cause pain in her legs, chest, stomach or arms as well as fever and headaches. Extreme temperature changes due to weather can also affect her body. At the ASK Hematology and Oncology Clinic where Jasmine goes for her transfusions, her mom is able to be 100% involved in her care team. Knowing all of her daughter’s doctors, Nicole is able to fill them in on Jasmine’s health and update them on her current status.“They really take the parents’ word to heart and make you feel involved in your child’s care,” said Nicole. “They are always so accommodating when I ask for different things to increase Jasmine’s comfort.”At the Clinic, Jasmine is known as the “fashionista,” always making sure to look her best even while in the hospital. She plans to one day design hospital socks, scrubs and gowns to make her doctors and nurses feel fashionable even when they work. Jasmine even brings her own special pajamas when staying at the clinic.
“She may be sick, but she’s going to look cute either way,” said Nicole. “If Jasmine decides she wants to be a fashion designer, that’s likely what she’ll do. With her spirit, she could do anything she put her mind to. She has always believed she could do anything; she won’t let her sickness stop her!”