MY BROTHER, OUR JOY

I am the first born at home. My little brother Jeremy Darling is the young one. From the time i remember, my mum would always rush Jeremy to the hospital, that is Mulago Hospital. I would always go with him and mum.

I used to hear mum use the word “sickle cell”, but i had no idea what it meant. As i grew older, i started understanding that its a genetic disease. It’s a very painful disease that causes my brother to wake up in the night with a lot of pain. I always help mum when my brother is in pain. I bring the warm water and apply on a cotton cloth and massage the painful area. I usually tell him stories to calm him down, especially animal stories. He likes those a lot. I always asked my teacher in class what was going to happen to my brother.

The years 2010-2014 are the ones i remember most. We visited the hospital several times. Every time we would go, my brother was given blood. Some times his painful crises were not so intense, but still when they checked his blood, it would be low.

One moment i will never forget was when we left home and mum was saying she was having a bad feeling. My brother had had malaria for some days and got treatment. He got better but remained very weak. This Friday mum was supposed to attend a wedding for my auntie, but she kept on saying, she had a bad feeling something was wrong with Jeremy. At around 11 am she says, “we go to the hospital”. as we do not have a nanny, i usually go with them, but also because Jeremy feels safer and calm when am with him, even when they are looking for his veins to put carnulars.

We met Dr Tukei, our usual Doctor was not around. He asked Jeremy how he was doing and Jeremy said he was OK. In a few minutes, Jeremy became very weak that his speech was not good, he could not even stand. Doctor decided to take off a blood sample to do a CBC (Full Blood Count). When the results were brought back, i saw mum breaking into tears, the doctor ordered the nurses to take Jeremy to the bed at the ward, two doctors ran out too. I was confused because i did not know what was going on. Mum told me Jeremy’s blood level is very low. Next i heard her calling my grandmother telling her Jeremy’s Hb is 2. My grandmother and my aunties came very quickly. In a few minutes, he was having a transfusion. But what surprised everyone, before the first unit was over, he started talking and the first words were    “I am hungry”. My brother appeared whole again, his colour returned to normal. We were discharged the next day, and were told to return after two weeks.

Two days to the date we were supposed to return to the hospital for review, Jeremy got a high temperature. This time mum said we can not wait at  home and we just went to the hospital immediately. Mum told the doctor that Jer was running a temperature. Doctor took off a blood sample and when he returned in 20 minutes, he was not happy at all. He told mum Jeremy’s Hb was 2.5. Mum does not cry easily, but this time she broke down badly asking, what is happening to her son. My heart felt like someone was tearing it apart, at the same time like someone was sitting on my chest draining out all the air. He was given two units of blood and he got better. Mum tells me, for years my brother’s hb was ranging between 5-3.5, but those two incidents were the worst.

My brother is alive today, we play together, we fetch water from the well together because there was blood and it was given to him in time. I do not want to imagine what would have happened if there was no blood!

Key Entry Rules

  1. You must be someone with Sickle Cell Disease or have some strong connection with SCD through kinship, friendship or caring responsibility.
  2. Your story – which must be true and should include some aspect of the importance of blood in the narrative – must be between 200–2,000 words.
  3. We expect most entries to come from Africa, but where you live is less important than the story you have to share.
  4. Stories must be submitted by the contest deadline of 30 September 2016.
  5. Photographs and other media can be included and are very much encouraged.
  6. First, second and third place winners will be awarded a monetary prize of $500/$350/$250 respectively. There will also be two special $125 prizes for standout young contestant (under 16) and standout health care professional, if not represented among the overall winners.

Story Criteria

Contest Rules

Past Winners