Amber Elise Jefferson looks like a typical 12-year-old girl, with a warm smile and outgoing personality. But from the time she was born, her parents knew their child would be facing daunting obstacles. When Amber’s mother was expecting her they found out their child had sickle cell disease.
When Amber was five years old she had a transcranial Doppler ultrasound which showed there was some damage and a potential for a stroke. A CAT scan confirmed the diagnosis. In order to prevent the stroke, Amber began receiving blood transfusions once or twice a month. It is uncertain how long a person needs to be on chronic blood transfusions, so after three years the transfusions were discontinued. When Amber was nine she had a stroke. Since that time she has been back on blood transfusions, which not only help prevent strokes, but pain crises, one of the symptoms of sickle cell disease. While blood transfusions are a vital part of Amber’s treatment, they are not a cure. The only cure lies in a bone marrow transplant and as yet there are no matches for her.
Even so, Amber’s parents are forever grateful to blood donors. “Our little baby girl is alive today because of blood donors. We cannot put into words what blood donors and blood donations mean to us,” Jimmy Jefferson, Amber’s father, says.
Mr. Jefferson is also thankful to Mississippi Blood Services. “They have always worked with us to hold blood drives for Amber,” Jefferson said.