Jourdan Dun is working hard to spread awareness about the sickle cell disease that her son battles everyday. The actress recently accepted the job as ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, where she will give the details about the illness to millions who may not even know they carry the gene.
“A lot of people don’t know what sickle cell anemia is,” says the star. “It is a genetic blood disease. Normal blood cells are round, but for people who have sickle cell, their blood cells are a half-moon shape. If the blood cells clog up, that is what triggers a trauma crisis. A sickle cell crisis happens if, for example, my son gets an infection, or if he’s too hot or cold—things like that will trigger one.”
Although she was devastated to hear that her little one had the disease, Jourdan says that Riley’s diagnosis didn’t catch her by complete surprise. “In the back of my head I knew there was a possibility that my son would have sickle cell because his father and I are carriers of the genetic trait for it,” explains the model. “But once I got the results back that my son had sickle cell, it really hit me, like, this is real. It is a reality that my son is going to have to deal with this for the rest of his life.”
Even though Riley will have to endure moments of immeasurable pain for years to come, Dunn tells fans not to feel sorry for her family. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for my son or me,” shares the celebrity. “I’m not ashamed about sickle cell anemia. I want to talk about it because there are a lot of the people in the industry who have sickle cell or have a family member who has it, but they don’t talk about it. Many others don’t know if they even carry the gene. I feel like people tend to think of it as a ‘black disease,’ and that if they are Caucasian, it won’t affect them. But it’s not just those of African or Caribbean descent who are at risk; if you are Caucasian, you can also inherit it.”
Riley is Jourdan’s only son. Check out more pictures of the vibrant little one below!