When her son was about 5 months old, Anitra Palmer-
Dawkins received the devastating diagnosis that would
change their lives forever. The news that Jared had sickle cell
disease was the first in a series of traumatic events the pair
would work through together.
Only a few months after seeing the sickle cell team at Hughes
Spalding hospital, Anitra brought Jared back because of
flu-like symptoms. Tests showed he had pneumococcal
meningitis, and he was hospitalized for two weeks. The
infection ravaged Jared’s body and left him with profound
hearing loss in both ears.
After sickle cell complications caused a stroke, Jared was
transferred to Egleston hospital where he underwent grueling
therapy for two months to regain his strength. Over the
course of the next year, Jared endured occupational, physical
and experimental drug therapies, in addition to blood
transfusions, which he still undergoes every five weeks.
Now 15 and a student at the Atlanta Area School for the
Deaf, Jared struggles with the pain his sickle cell causes, but
he is a spirited practical joker who enjoys cooking, acting, and
spending time with friends and family. Through it all, the team
at Children’s has supported Jared’s physical and emotional
health. Though he must frequently meet with a hematologist,
cardiologist, endocrinologist and other physicians at
Children’s, Jared remains a happy and resilient teen.