“I would like the African-American community to become blood donors so we can keep those struggling with sickle cell disease alive and healthy.” —Ternesha Burroughs, mother of Teresa
Ternesha Burroughs was nearly three months pregnant when she learned both she and her husband, James, carry the sickle cell trait. The discovery was scary for the soon-to-be first-time parents, who quickly learned their daughter had a 25% chance of being born with sickle cell disease—a chronic red blood cell disorder that impacts one in 500 African-American newborns in the U.S.
In May 2012, James and Ternesha Burroughs welcomed Teresa—born three months prematurely and weighing only one pound thirteen ounces. Within days of being born, Teresa received a blood transfusion due to her low iron and platelet counts, and was diagnosed with sickle cell disease.
The lifelong disease produces crescent-shaped red blood cells that can clog blood vessels and reduce oxygen flow, triggering a sickle cell crisis. When a crisis occurs, it causes excruciating pain. Often, only blood transfusions can relieve the agony and complications.
“Many kids and adults living with sickle cell disease need regular blood transfusions,” said Ternesha. As parents, James and Ternesha wish they could donate blood for their young daughter, but can’t because they carry the sickle cell trait—a trait one in 10 African-Americans in the U.S. carries.
Not being able to donate blood motivates Ternesha and James to advocate for others to give, ensuring blood is always available for those in need.
“We, the African-American community, should be donating blood to help ease the pain for those living with the disease,” said James. “We are the difference those living with the disease need.”