Joshua was born with Sickle Cell Anemia. He began exhibiting symptoms like pain crisis, which feels like a stabbing, at 18 months old. The crises are sporadic, can occur without notice, and can last for as long as two-and-a-half weeks. In addition to severe pain crises, Sickle Cell Anemia also reduces the lifespan of its host by slowly impacting the organs. The average lifespan of someone with sickle cell is 40 years.
On average, Joshua’s pain crises occurred monthly. Many crises were treated at home with medication. Joshua's family would treat him at home for seven days and if they couldn't find relief, they headed to the emergency where Josh was hurried into a room. Josh was in the hospital at least quarterly. Josh, his older brother Kaleb, his mom Gen, and his dad Karim logged untold hours in lobbies and inpatient rooms.
As one can imagine, Karim and Gen were heartbroken for their son and struggled with regret that they had given such a terrible disease to him. Apart from the Sickle Cell Anemia, Josh was a typical boy — and a bit of a troublemaker — who loved to play. He’d always ask if the family could go to the neighborhood pool. His parents had to avoid the question (and the pool) because any change in body temperature could trigger a crisis.
One can only imagine the family's excitement when they found out that Kaleb was a DNA match to save his little brother. Karim says he will never forget the look of fear on Kaleb’s 7-year old face when he explained that he had “special seeds” which could cure his brother. His immediate thought was the pain of this ordeal. Kaleb’s fear turned into courage as he understood the significance of the bond he and his brother shared. In the months leading up to the bone marrow transplant (BMT), Kaleb never hesitated to remind his parents to be very careful when caring for him because his “special seeds” were going to save the day.
Gen took a break from corporate America to care for Josh full time. Karim says, "thanks to her, Super Kaleb, Texas Children’s, organizations like His Grace Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield and lots of prayer, Joshua had a successful BMT." Josh spent nearly seven weeks in the hospital and then returned only for checkups and testing. These days, his numbers are great. Josh’s doctors call him the perfect BMT recovery case.
Josh and Kaleb are taking swim lessons in preparation for a summer vacation to St. Croix, USVI where they will be greeted by both sets of grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and many others who’ve prayed for them on this journey.
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