6-year-old thrives with St. Jude treatments: ‘She wants to help kids like her’

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 2:50 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Miss. (WLBT) - The family of a 6-year-old girl in Memphis is counting their blessings after a sickle cell diagnosis.

Out of respect for privacy, we won’t mention their last name, but Za’Mya and her family live in Memphis, so they were close to where they needed to be when the little girl was found to have sickle cell disease.

Za’Mya’s mother, Nytasha, says it was a scary time after her daughter was born and diagnosed, but doctors, nurses, and staff at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital reassured her right away.

“They educated me on my daughter’s disease and how to handle it,” Nytasha says.

Nytasha tells us Za’Mya is what’s called an intermittent patient. She only spends the night at the hospital if she experiences a sickle cell disease crisis that would be hard to control at home. Her treatment plan includes penicillin and a drug called hydroxyurea, which multiplies healthy hemoglobin.

“With sickle cell, their cells are misshaped. They’re shaped like bananas instead of circles. So it gets stuck in their blood vessels, and that causes pain,” Nytasha says. “So with the hydroxyurea, it replicates the healthy red blood cells, so it cuts down on her crisis.”

Because of the inviting atmosphere, the level of care and compassion, and the fact that the family didn’t have to pay for treatment, Nytasha encourages everyone to buy a ticket for the St. Jude Dream home to ensure the hospital’s mission can continue.

“You help parents like me who don’t know where to go, who to lean on, where to turn. You help the kids fight these awful diseases. You just help them butterfly,” Nytasha says, adding that Za’Mya is in the first grade and on the honor roll. “Za’Mya wants to be a St. Jude doctor, believe it or not. She wants to help kids who have sickle cell like her.”

The family is sharing their story in hopes of inspiring everyone to support the children’s research hospital.

To buy a ticket for the 2022 St. Jude Dream Home, call (800) 371-6790 or visit dreamhome.org.

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