Just three days after she was born, tiny Mariah Roberts was in a fight for her life.
Mariah was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder predominantly found in people of African descent that afflicts approximately 100,000 Americans.
Sickle cell disease is caused by a blood protein that creates abnormal red blood cells. While normal cells are disc-shaped, abnormal cells are sickle-shaped and carry less oxygen, interrupt healthy blood flow, and lead to tissue and organ damage and potentially premature death.
Immediately, Mariah received two blood transfusions that eased her pain and cleared up her complications. Her parents, Chris and Mariah, who were dedicated blood donors prior to Mariah’s birth, are now spreading the word about the importance of blood donation, especially in the African-American community.
“It’s our duty to donate blood,” says Mariah’s mom, Tamara. “We take it upon ourselves that somebody helped our daughter, so now we do it in return.”