Age: Junior at Menlo Atherton High School
Condition treated for: sickle cell disease diagnosed at 4 days old and have been going to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases for 15 years
Favorite Memory of Packard Children's: Walking down with her family to get food from the cafeteria at LPCH
Zariah was first diagnosed with sickle cell beta thalassemia when she was 4 days old, and has been going to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases for 15 years. In sickle cell disease red blood cells are abnormally shaped resulting in oxygenation issues. Zariah had her first pain crisis when she was 4 years old, when she was exposed to cold water because at this point she didn’t know what she couldn’t do. Pain crises occur when red blood cells slow or block blood flow causing dull, stabbing, throbbing, or sharp pain. In 7th grade she had another pain crisis, and has since experienced an occurrence every spring. Her pain crises last about a week, and in addition to pain, during these crises she experiences constant drowsiness and an inability to get up and walk. As a result, she isn’t able to do all of the normal things she enjoys, and misses out on school and socializing with friends. The most recent pain crisis she endured lasted two weeks.
Undeterred by these experiences, Zariah has a talkative, bubbly energy with a mature outlook on her condition. She says she “understands why God gave it to [her] because it’s given [her] so many opportunities.” For example, she has received The Heroes Award for Sickle Cell Patients, and was the youngest to receive it at age 15. Zariah has organized multiple awareness efforts about sickle cell in her middle school, through speaking and writing about her journey.
At the Bass Center at Packard Children’s, Zariah met another girl with sickle cell, and was finally able to find a friend who understood her struggle.
Her doctors told Zariah’s mother, Shawneece, “Zariah has a condition; don’t let it become a disability.” Shawneece recalled that care providers and other patient families at Packard Children’s made them feel as if that they weren’t alone.
At the Bass Center there were many people to talk to about sickle cell, and even about things not related to the condition, like college.
Zariah is supported by her two siblings, her family, and the compassionate care she gets from Packard Children’s and the Bass Center.
Come support patients like Zariah at Stanford University Dance Marathon, February 17-18th!