As a child, Lyric Porter always knew her life would be a bit different than those around her due to being diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as a baby. Sickle cell anemia causes red blood cells to become hard and sticky and look like a C-shape, or a “sickle” rather than the normal round, healthy blood cells. According to the CDC, the sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
Because of this diagnosis, Lyric says she didn’t always have the “privilege of being average” and remembers rolling a traveling oxygen tank with her to kindergarten and a compilation of other memories comprising a childhood strikingly different than most of her peers. That includes hospital stays and regular blood transfusions to manage the intense pain caused by sickle cell anemia.
A glimpse of Lyric’s many hospital visits including one NYE due to sickle cell anemia.
She went to a children’s hospital and even sickle cell camp where she saw other kids held back from life and activities due to sickle cell anemia. Seeing this, Lyric made sure to still try and do all the things regular kids did like playing sports, taking dance classes and more.
She is now a 20-something college graduate living life to the fullest in spite of a lifetime of pain and struggle with the disease. Raised in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, she ventured to Florida A&M for college earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2019.
Now she continues to be an advocate for sickle cell warriors, and encourages others to donate blood. Volunteer blood donors who help stock the shelves at hospitals are vital to people like Lyric who battle sickle cell disease in their everyday life, and the need for blood is constant for sickle cell and beyond. She says she is grateful to the many donors whose blood she has received over the years.
She also wants to raise awareness about sickle cell and wants to help kids who have it not to see it as an obstacle too big to overcome.
“I just want children with sickle cell to know that they can have a life outside of being sick,” she said.
Lyric has now put her job search plans on hold to see if she can get a stem cell transplant at the University of Chicago, a procedure that could change her life.
Lyric Porter overcame many health challenges with sickle cell and navigated a new health system outside of her home state to attend college and earn her degree. She is now a proud graduate of Florida A&M University.
There is no widely used cure for sickle cell disease. However, the Red Cross supports one of the most critical sickle cell treatments of all – blood transfusions. For many patients, a close blood type match is essential and is found in donors of the same race or similar ethnicity.
Sign up to give blood at an upcoming Red Cross blood drive and make a difference to the patients in need of blood.
September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Learn more about Sickle Cell Disease here.