Brighter Together: Children's MN Helps Young Sickle Cell Patient

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield shows us how the hospital is specializing in caring for kids with sickle cell disease (2:27). WCCO 4 News - April 21, 2021

Video Transcript

FRANK VASCELLARO: Sickle cell is an extremely painful disease affecting African-American children in the Twin Cities and beyond.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: Children's Minnesota is working hard to combat the genetic condition. Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield shows us how the hospital specializes in caring for kids who are suffering with the disorder.

KIMBERLY SHOEMATE: I wouldn't trade it for the world.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Raelen and Kimberly of Minnetonka are a power duo. They've been conquering challenges together since the day Raelen was born.

KIMBERLY SHOEMATE: My heart sinked. I can remember the day, and I was just like, what am I going to do? How am I going to protect her?

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Raelen was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, a subject she's now an expert on.

RAELEN CRIST: My blood is not like your blood. Everybody else's cells, they are round while mine are crescent-shaped.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Her crescent, or sickle-shaped cells cause chronic and severe body pain. Raelen's worst episode was in the seventh grade.

RAELEN CRIST: Walking down the hallways. Wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, all pain.

KIMBERLY SHOEMATE: You know, hearing my daughter scream, and morphine wasn't helping.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: They sought care at Children's Minnesota. The hospital specializes in care of sickle cell patients, a hereditary disease that affects about one in 400 African-American children born in the US each year.

DERRICK GOUBEAUX: Sickle cell disease is a very, very complex disease. It requires a team approach. It takes a village to care for these children.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: So Children's creates that village, with pulmonologists, social workers, and sometimes even a masseuse, who can help fight pain attacks.

RAELEN CRIST: I feel validated, because they truly understand it, or they actually try to understand it, and not push me to the side.

DERRICK GOUBEAUX: They need someone that's devoted to them and their disease, and that's what really drove me to do what I do and to lead this team here at Children's Minnesota.

RAELEN CRIST: I love Children's. I am going to be so sad the day that I have my last appointment.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield, WCCO 4 News.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: Looks like Raelen could certainly have a future in TV.

FRANK VASCELLARO: Yes, very articulate, she's so smart. Children's Minnesota doesn't turn away patients. Donations make that possible, helping to pay for patients who cannot afford care. And right now, you can double your donation, thanks to Best Buy. They are matching any amount up to $10,000. To give, just text MNBrighter to 50155. Or you can simply had to WCCO.com/brighter.