Jourdan Dunn – Sickle cell son

At the Olympic closing ceremony we saw some of Britain’s famous catwalk models, including the ‘next Naomi Campbell’ Jourdan Dunn. Discovered in one of London’s best loved shops, Primark (frown if you must but we have all been there, you know it!) Jourdan has modelled for, arguably the best designers in the world, Prada, Burberry, Calvin Klein etc.

Pregnant Jorudan Dunn walking the catwalk for Jean Paul Gaultier

Claiming that she was teased at school for being too skinny, it seems that if you do not fit within the ‘average’ or ‘normal’ category of body image / shape whether it be on the larger side or smaller side, you can be subjected to bullying. Of course there are serious health implications for both and that shouldn’t be ignored, but maybe just maybe we all do come in different, shapes and sizes?

Anyway, when Jourdan Dunn became another teenage pregnant Londoner in 2009, I am sure people had their opinions, but speaking at the end of July 2012 her biggest shock was when she found out that she was a carrier of the Sickle cell anaemia gene. Consequently, her son was diagnosed with Sickle-cell disease (SCD), indicating that his father is also a carrier of the gene. Carriers do not show symptoms of the disease and those who are, may not even know it. I know people with SCD and it is very serious even though, it may not get as much documented press coverage as, HIV, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. SCD is quite common in people of African descent.

Red blood cells contain the iron-rich protein haemoglobin; this takes oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. In SCD a defect in the shape of haemoglobin causes red blood cells to develop this sickle (crescent) shape, rather than the usual doughnut shape. However, it is believed that sickled cells make it difficult for the malaria parasite to thrive in the human body. Malaria is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa where around a third of Africans carry the sickle-cell gene. Malarial regions also extend to Asia, South America, Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean.

Sickled red blood cells (bottom image) – Wikipedia

Despite SCD providing a survival benefit to malaria, sickle cells are not as flexible as normal red blood cells and can get stuck in capillaries when blood is flowing through the body. Restricted blood flow can cause pain, lead to infections and organ damage. Anaemia develops because sickled cells only live for 10-20 days instead of the usual 120 days of normal red blood cells, and the bone marrow cannot produce new red blood cells quick enough to replace the ones that die after 10-20 days.

Jourdan Dunn has said that she wants to use her fame to increase awareness of the disease and support the Sickle Cell Society. On 1st September 2012 the Back to Nature Festival is having a fundraiser event to raise money for the Sickle Cell Society at the O2 London, to help them continue their amazing work. Check them out!

doubleaad : AdelinA

3 comments

  • Nice one Adelina!

  • Very interesting and informative article. Looking forward to the next one.

  • Well this certainly was news to me! Nice article, certainly woke me up!

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