Jourdan Dunn is a single parent with a son, Riley,who takes penicillin and Folic Acid daily to treat sickle-cell anemia. A disease of the blood, sickle-cell is a genetic disorder in which red blood cells develop abnormally. Such abnormalities lead to clogged blood vessels in which painful episodes known as sickle cell crises arise, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several days. Jourdan recently sat down with Sunday Times Style magazine to give more insight into the effects that the disease has had on her and Riley’s life and how she balances motherhood with her career as a model.

On how she told her mom when she became pregnant at eighteen:
“I made Antoine [her brother] distract Mum in HMV at the airport on the way to a family holiday, while I did the pregnancy test,” Dunn said. “It was the worst holiday ever. I didn’t tell Mum, but in Jamaica, we went to see a psychic together who said straight away that I was pregnant. I denied it, but went back to see him on my own. He told me that great things would happen to me with the baby. He was right.”

On how she balances her career with motherhood:
“I’ll never get used to being away from Riley, but having mum makes it easier,” she said. “I used to Skype with him, but it makes it worse. He hates it when he sees a suitcase in the front room. He’ll start saying: ‘No Mummy.'”

On discovering that Riley has sickle-cell anemia:
“I found out I carried it when I was pregnant, which was a huge shock. The first time Riley had a crisis, I was working in New York and due to travel to Puerto Rico. Mum was amazing and reassured me he was in the best hands and that I should keep working.”

On her feelings about the disease and the public’s awareness.
“[Sickle-cell is] something people don’t really know about, due to the fact it’s genetic, so it doesn’t have the high profile of HIV or malaria. People have always stared at me, but not in a good way. [Riley’s diagnosis] made me almost not want to leave the house, but I made myself get over it by forcing myself to be more confident. Riley looks just like a normal boy, but I can’t get away from the fact he has a serious disease.”

Click here to read the entire interview now!

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  1. Interesting a psychic sensed she was pregnant but it’s sad her baby’s sick! I’m sure she’ll have all the resources necessary to keep getting him the best treatments. He’s so cute!

    • Wow…I have a 16 year old daughter who was recently cured of Sickle Cell with a bone marrow transplant. It is a cure…but, not available to everyone…too complicated to get into here…I started a blog to chronicle my daughter’s journey from Sickle Cell to cured…www.theb-girl.blogspot.com.

      I know first hand the journey this young woman is about to take with her son…her life will never be the same…I will put her and her son in my prayers…

      • It’s right good that your daughters’ bone marrow transplant was a success. I was under the impression that the procedure was only available to children 16 and under but I was corrected and told that certain adults are also eligible and have been cured of SSA using the procedure.

        I’m curious. Was the donation made by a family member or did it come through the bank? One of my age mates underwent the procedure but he had to wait until his little brother was old enough to make the donation. During the three or four years he was waiting there was never a match through the bank. I was told it was due to not enough Black people getting tested and signing up.

    • @Mercy. I thought that as well. Psychic predicted she was pregnant, but not that her son would have sickle cell? I don’t trust them anyway.

      @Soulpretty..praise God about your daughter. May she continue having blessings poured upon her.

  2. African Americans who are planning (or who are having unprotected sex) need to know their carrier status. I know that I carry the trait – I have one copy of the sickle cell gene and a copy of the “regular” gene, and I produce both the regular and sickled hemoglobin.

    This trait is prevalent in those of Western African descent (almost anyone black in the US or Western Europe who is a descendent of slaves is most likely of west African descent), and even appears in Mediterranean populations!

    Since it is a simple blood test, I would suggest that if you plan to marry, have a child or engage in unprotected sex, that you get tested for the trait. If your partner has the trait as well, there is a 1 in 4 chance that your kid will as well…

    • Great post! I definitely agree with all you said. I remember being so scared that my son would be born with sickle cell disease. We knew that his father carried the trait but I just sort’ve assumed all of my life that I didn’t! Everyone should definitely get tested.

  3. Sickle Cell Anemia is a natural defense against malaria. There are medicines, a cure (bone marrow transplant before age 16) and procedures available that can make SCA a chronic disease like diabetes instead of a death sentence.

    Unfortunately since it mostly affects people of African descent (more white people and “others” are being diagnosed with it due mixed race children who go on to have “white” children and not telling the children about an African ancestor) many pharmaceutical companies do not manufacture the medicines due to lack of “profit”. In other words there are not enough people affected by SCA to make the percentage profit. This also affects research into cures for SCA.

    This is why it is so important to know your medical history. At the age Jourdan (and the baby’s father)is they should have been tested at birth (infant heel stick) which would have shown that they had Sickle Cell Trait. SCT + SCT = SCA

  4. Sickle cell is not well known because we don’t make a big deal about it. But it’s a huge deal in the the AA community. T-Boz has sickle cell. It’s a very serious disease & I will keep Riley in my prayers.

  5. My older cousin passed away from sickle cell last April. He was only 34. I’m sure the news was devastating. I hope there is a cure for this disease soon, but with it being genetic, I’m sad to think of the everlasting impact it will have on the African American community.

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