Sanqunette Ruffin remembers the day the doctor called and told her that her week old baby Christopher tested positive for sickle cell anemia. “I remembered what I had heard of sickle cell when I was a kid, and I thought, ‘My baby’s going to die,’” Sanqunette recalls. “But then we went to the doctor, and then my husband bought a book on it, and reality began to set in.”
Sanqunette learned that with proper medical care, Christopher’s symptoms could be managed and controlled, and that the number of pain crises could be kept to a minimum. She took this advice to heart, contacting the doctor at Children’s of Alabama anytime Christopher became feverish or showed signs of swelling in his joints.
By all other accounts, Christopher was a healthy child, registering “off the charts” in age and weight. But he required blood transfusions every few weeks as part of his treatment.
Sanqunette continued to learn all she could about her son’s disease and taking care to read his symptoms, especially when he was too young to express how he felt. One day, at age 6, he started crying for no reason and couldn’t walk. Sanqunette quickly got on the computer and realized her son may have had a stroke. She rushed him to the hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed. He soon recovered.
Today, Christopher is 18, and like his mother, he follows his doctor’s advise to a T. “His doctor will tell you that she loves him because he does exactly what she asks him to do,” Sanqunette says.
Christopher eats right, exercises, and goes to his doctor’s appointments religiously. “Anything pertaining to his health he insists on talking to his doctor first,” she says. “And because of that, he’s doing great.”