Lack of blood donations affects a Columbus woman with Sickle Cell Disease

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Since the start of the pandemic, a Columbus woman has had to struggle with her Sickle Cell Disease even more due to a lack of blood donations.

Alexis Lott has been dealing with Sickle Cell Disease since she was just three months old. Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder, primarily found in African Americans, Mediterranean, and Hispanic descent. According to Lott, roughly one in 12,000 African Americans are considered to have the genetic markers of Sickle Cell trait and one in 500 African Americans have the disease.

“When there’s not enough oxygen in the bloodstream when your body isn’t getting enough nutrients that it needs and the rest that it needs. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that you have a sickle in your cells that begins to take place. It goes from round to sickle shape, when that begins to happen a lot of things start to take place,” Lott said.

One of the things that take place is random blood clots throughout the body, causing the blood to stop delivering oxygen throughout the body, causing a Sickle Cell crisis to happen anywhere in the body such as the eyes, brain, heart, liver, and other areas.

Two years into the pandemic Lott is still struggling to get the efficient help she needs to help manage her disease.

“When you have those blood crises sometimes they’re manageable at home, sometimes you do have to go to the emergency room to get what normal people would call a blood transfusion. So if your body is not doing what it needs to with your blood you need somebody else’s. During the pandemic, the blood shortage began to run low because blood transfusions are the number one most requested medical treatment in a hospital,” Lotts said.

Lott has received numerous blood transfusions over the years, causing her body to develop antibodies.

“So the doctors have to go in a lab and make my blood compatible to my body. So since the process takes about a day or two, the doctors were telling me, hey Alexis, we really don’t know when we’re going to be able to get blood in to help stop this crisis because right now the pandemic and all the things that are happening with the Corona Virus,” Lott said.

Lott told News 3 that the pain that comes with Sickle Cell is excruciating.

“The pain that comes with Sickle Cell is absolutely unbearable, there is a scale that they use to rate a woman giving birth to a child. Sickle Cell Disease pushes above that pain scale, so if you can imagine like being a woman the worst menstrual cramps you’ve ever had all concentrated inside your different joints, inside your gums, your eyes, your hips, your legs. Everywhere the blood flows, it can happen and Sickle Cell crisis varies where it’s light and I can go on about my day and sometimes it’s debilitating to the point where your major organs can stop,” Lott said.

Lott believes this is one major reason why people should get vaccinated to help bring COVID-19 numbers down and allow those with deadly diseases to get the treatment and attention they need.

“Someone with Sickle Cell has a chronic disorder, one of the things I have personally run into is being in hospitals and not receiving the best treatment or treatment that is kind of subpar because the doctors and the nurses are kind of stressed with other things happening. Which is the Covid crisis if you can prevent disease in any shape, form, or fashion no matter what it is, it’s your personal responsibility to do that,” Lott said.

Lott said overall living with the disease is extremely difficult.

“There are times when I’m very depressed and that’s just a very honest way of looking at it. It doesn’t always make me happy because Sickle Cell Disease is not just physical, it’s also mental. One of the things that my mother told me as I was growing up, she said. ‘ I asked God what would be the difference between when you’re having normal baby stuff and when you’re truly having a Sickle Cell crisis.’ She told me the number one thing she would notice is my joy was her response and if my joy went out the window she knew that I was sick and that has maintained its truth throughout my life,” Lott said.

With the disease being so deadly and painful, Lott believes those wanting to have children should get tested to see if they’re carriers for the disease.

“You could potentially pass it on, but you do have an opportunity for you and your spouse if you’re thinking about having children. Please if you’re African American or of Mediterranean descent or even if you’re Caucasian you can still have genetic markers in your blood for Sickle Cell trait,” Lotts said.

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