Allen, age 20, accompanied by his father, Kelly, shared his story about living with Sickle Cell Anemia. Allen spent much of his childhood and teen years in the hospital.
Sickle Cell is a red blood disorder, inherited when both parents carry the gene. Healthy red blood cells are smooth, round, and bendable to easily flow through blood vessels and carry oxygen. With Sickle Cell, the cells can change shape and form a sickle, or crescent. They can become stiff and sticky, blocking blood flow and breaking down inside the blood vessels. The sticking of the blood causes tremendous pain by not allowing oxygen to organs and tissues. Around 100,000 people in the U.S. have Sickle Cell, with 90% being of African descent. The disease likely comes from evolution’s attempt to protect against malaria.
Allen’s symptoms typically start in his lower back and chest and he tries to manage them from spiking through his diet and staying hydrated. Unfortunately, his condition limits his ability to participate in physical activities and swimming.
Despite his battles, Allen was able to graduate high school and is currently learning Japanese with the hope to travel there to study culinary arts and Japanese cuisine. His goal is to become an award-winning Executive Chef.
For a short video on Sickle Cell, go to