XENIA, Ohio — About one in every 365 African American babies in the U.S. is born with sickle cell disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One Ohio family has two of them: The Jones family.
Dominic Jones is on the Xenia Peewee Football Team and isn't afraid to tackle any position.
While he enjoys playing ball on the field, keeping up sometimes can be a struggle. That’s because he has sickle cell anemia, an inherited disease where the red blood cells are sickle-shaped and block blood flow. It causes pain and the cells die early leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells.
“Whenever I’m running, I can’t breathe,” he said.
Lauren Jones is Dominic’s mother. It wasn’t until she was 20 weeks pregnant with Dominic that she found out she and Dom’s dad both had the s-genotype sickle cell trait.
“I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t done much research on it just because I didn’t think that I carried the trait,” said Lauren.
Parents who both have sickle cell traits have a 1-in-4 chance of having a child with sickle cell anemia. Both Dominic and his sister Saretta were born with the disease. Every-day life has been a struggle for them since they were little.
“[They] become winded more easily when he’s playing sports,” she said. “They carry a lot less oxygen within their blood so he does have to take a lot more breaks.”
Every month they receive blood transfusions and they take Hydroxyurea, a medication that makes your blood cells bigger. Despite the pain, Dom still manages to stay active.
“He’s a lot stronger than what he knows he is,” she said. “Sometimes when you think strong you think stature and I think that’s where his mind goes a lot of the time, but just mentally and emotionally, the thing he’s been able to get through.”
The inherited blood disorder affects approximately 8% of African-Americans, and that’s why Lauren urges people of color and others to get checked out before planning to have a child.
“It’s important for us when we get together and start dating to know your genotype because you need to know what you’re getting yourself into,” she said.