When Karon and William Ellington took their 11-month-old daughter, Shayla, for standard blood tests, she showed no noticeable signs of sickle cell anemia. Ten months later the Ellingtons were notified that Shayla did have the disease. Shayla, now 13-years-old, makes an effort to stay positive despite having sickle cell.
Sickle cell anemia is a condition where the red blood cells, which are normally round and flexible, are sticky, hard and shaped like crescent moons. This causes decreased oxygen and blood flow to certain parts of the body, which puts the person in intense pain. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease, and Shayla’s 6-year-old sister, Aliva, also suffers from sickle cell.
Shayla’s main symptom is intense pain, and though she has only been hospitalized twice this year, in the past she would have to visit The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton two or three times a month.
The Ellingtons were living in Japan at the time of Shayla’s diagnosis and came to Dayton Children’s because there were no facilities in Japan to effectively treat sickle cell.
“We were able to request to be near a hospital that could treat Shayla’s disease and they said that Dayton Children’s near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had the best facility,” says Karon.
Since they moved to the area for Shayla’s treatments, the Ellingtons have been more than pleased with the care they have received.
“It has been wonderful,” says Karon.
“Dayton Children’s has such a kid-friendly atmosphere, and the whole family feels comfortable and relaxed.”
Shayla also is thankful for the doctors, nurses and staff at Dayton Children’s, and says that she misses them all when she isn’t at the hospital.
“They do whatever is needed to make your stay better,” she says.
Though Shayla has bouts with pain and contracted parvovirus because of the anemia, she has made some extraordinary accomplishments.
She has consistently received top grades at Wiesenborn Middle School in Huber Heights, and is now a freshman at Wayne High School. She also skipped the fourth grade. She received a signed letter from the President commemorating her outstanding grades and was nominated for the National Young Leaders State Conference.
Outside the classroom, Shayla is active in cheerleading, student council and choir, but she says music is her passion.
“I love to sing and I love to be the center of attention.”
Shayla hopes to become an R&B singer and wants to donate some of the proceeds from her concerts to charities.
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