The Tucker family are sickle cell warriors. Crystal Dawn Tucker, a single mother of five from Keller, Texas, has three sons who have sickle cell and a daughter with the trait. The family has persevered through countless obstacles, and despite the challenges, they have been able not only to survive but thrive.
Tucker’s children have become sickle cell advocates by speaking at public events and volunteering. The family collaborates with the American Red Cross to host blood drives to encourage people to donate blood. Their mission is to dispel myths about donating blood and teach the community about its importance.
“With my children having sickle cell, being advocates in the community and having many friends in their sports, we have had success collecting blood donations and educating the community on sickle cell,” Tucker said.
AJ Tucker, Crystal Dawn’s oldest son, who is 15, spoke at the American Red Cross Irving location opening ceremony to share his journey as a sickle cell warrior. During his speech, he spoke about living with sickle cell disease and the fact that the reason he is alive today is because of blood donations.
In the U.S., about 100,000 people have sickle cell disease, most of whom are Black. Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped instead of soft and round. As a result, blood has difficulty flowing smoothly and carrying oxygen to the rest of the body, which may lead to severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes.
There is no cure for sickle cell, but blood transfusion helps patients by increasing the number of normal red blood cells in the body, helping to deliver oxygen throughout the body and unblocking blood vessels. A single sickle cell patient can require multiple blood transfusions each year throughout their life to treat complications from this disease.
Despite their fight with sickle cell, the Tucker children help inspire other children and adults. AJ is also on the national cheerleading team at his school, loves baseball and wants to be a veterinarian. Kaden Tucker, 12, is talented at basketball and football. Nicholas Tucker, who is 10 and has sickle cell and autism, takes piano lessons and hopes to be a train engineer one day.
Crystal Dawn knows her family's story can positively impact others by creating sickle cell awareness. She started an Embrace Unity nonprofit organization to educate the community about the disease. Visit @embrace_unity_ on Instagram to learn more about her organization.
To support the Tucker family and other sickle cell warriors, visit www.redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment to donate blood.