Jeremiah is a bright, energetic 6 year-old boy. Just by meeting him, you would never guess that shortly after he turned 1 he and his family would need to learn to manage his bouts of excruciating pain. Jeremiah was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, which is an inherited red blood cell disorder.
Unlike normal disc shaped blood cells, sickle-shaped cells are not flexible and can stick to vessel walls, causing a blockage that slows or stops the flow of blood. When this happens, sufficient oxygen can’t reach nearby tissues.
The lack of tissue oxygen can cause attacks of sudden, severe pain, called "pain crises." These pain attacks can occur without warning, and a person often needs to go to the hospital for effective treatment.
Jeremiah experiences pain in his feet, legs and hands. So far, Jeremiah hasn’t been hospitalized for his pain, but the family has to keep a stroller available in the event he is unable to walk.
Dr. Martez Prince, president and pharmacy director at Charlotte’s Premier Pharmacy and Wellness Center, said a common misunderstand for sickle cell disease (SCD) is the severity of the disease.
“With SCD, a lot of the time a person’s life expectancy is reduced significantly with the individual only making it into their prime years,” Prince said. “Those suffering with SCD often are unable to work, go to school, or simply do everyday activities.”
On Saturday, Sept. 9th, Premier Pharmacy and Wellness Center will walk in the 4th Annual 3K Sickle Cell Walk/Run in uptown Charlotte, and Jeremiah will be their team captain.
The pharmacy has partnered with the local sickle cell agency to help patients with medication compliance which could reduce the number of sickle cell crises for a patient.
“With over 100,000 people living with cell disease and over 3 million people carrying the sickle cell trait, I believe more awareness should be raised about SCD and how it affects those living with it,” Prince said.
The relationship between the pharmacy and Jeremiah’s family began over a year ago.
“Premier pharmacy is one of the only pharmacies that can liquefy Jeremiah’s medicine,” Jeremiah’s mother, Fatima Oliver said. “I’ve seen that they truly care about my son’s health and are committed to the community.”
Oliver said the walk allows the family an opportunity to face the sobering facts of Jeremiah’s life, good or bad, but also helps them reflect on how strong, resilient and see Jeremiah’s love of life.
“He is our joy and our hero,” Oliver said. “We get to celebrate that truth every September, along with many other families who are challenged just like us.”
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