29. September 2015 14:56
by Administrator

"Trey's" Story by Willie Wells, III

29. September 2015 14:56 by Administrator | 0 Comments

September is Sickle Cell Awareness month. I have personally learned a great deal about the disease from working with the exhibit “Sickle Cell on Canvas,” the past two years at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). After working on this exhibit last year, I also learned a dear friend of mine had the disease and ended up in the hospital while the exhibit was still on display. All I knew was that pain was a key symptom and a crisis sent one with SCD to the hospital frequently.

As we approach the opening of this year’s awareness exhibit, I had the honor of interviewing my friend so I could really understand the disease and shed light on this chronic illness that he lives with every day.

 Kendall Chew, BCRI Education Assistant

“Trey’s” Story


Sickle Cell Disease is a hereditary disease. My dad’s sister has it and he has the trait.  My mom didn’t know she carried the trait as well.

The only reason my parents knew I had it was because I had seizures at a very young age. I was less than a year old. I was with my aunt, my mom’s younger sister.

(Since both of Trey’s parents carry the trait t was inevitable that there children could have Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) or Sickle Cell Trait (SCT). Trey’s brother has the trait.

It’s like any other disease, but African Americans are the majority demographic that gets Sickle Cell. 

What is a day like with SCD?

I have to always be mindful and stay hydrated with plenty of fluids. In my childhood I had the most trouble because as a kid I wanted to play, so I had to learn patience. I work out and that really helps with Sickle Cell. It’s called a Crisis when you have a flare up. 

You have to watch out when the weather changes. When I was in the hospital this past December, I did too much in the cold and wasn’t covered up properly. They had to take my spleen out in 2008, which happens. I was 26, newlywed. It was a crazy time. St. Vincent’s was my second home. You can work out outside you just have to listen to your body.

Sickle Cell Community 

There is a lady at church that has SCD, so we do a walk in the spring at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Fairfield. The national community is based in Baltimore and I have done design work for them in the past, so I stay connected with the SCD community. 

Planning the Future

If my wife had SCD or SCT, when it came to having children, it would be a conversation we would have to have. I have SC (a type of SCD), but if my wife had the trait, our child could have SS, which is the worse kind SCD.

The Body & Sickle Cell

You are susceptible to other diseases like pneuomonia. A regular cold can progress and become fatal if you don’t jump on it properly. Your vision is changed. A lot of people with sickle cell go on disability.(Trey was hospitalized at least once a year until sixth grade).

 I stayed with my pediatrician until college because he knew a lot about the disease. African American doctors seem to know more about it. If you have the trait, you aren’t at risk to getting it, but you could have symptoms.

My First Memory of SCD

I was probably in third grade… I just remember being in a little room in the school, a sick room, and I was probably outside playing and my arms, joints or my legs started to hurt. My parents never treated me like a patient though. I played basketball at the Y. But I was also last during the mile. It was hard for coaches, especially white coaches, to understand why.

One time, I didn’t run a mile fast enough and had to run it again. And I was struggling up this hill. My dad had to come get me and I was hospitalized because of that. I was kneeling by my locker and other students saw me struggling. That was in seventh grade, so I was about 13. I was in the hospital for a week. From that point on I would spend time in handicap P.E. or sit out at general P.E.

Hydration is key to helping the pain. Last time I was in the hospital I got an allergy to an antibiotic I was on. I got off penicillin in high school and I was taking it daily. I try to take folic acid. I always have to have a flu shot. Sometimes stress brings on a flare up and you have to step away from work and relax.

What Can We Do

Always give blood. We need plenty of transfusions. We can’t give blood. Now we have a sickle cell tag for your cars, so support your national and local organizations. We have a Sickle Cell ball in February in Birmingham.

They’re testing a cure in rats, so there could be a cure in our future. I have a heart for the younger generations with SCD and parents of these children. Education is key.

About Willie

Willie Wells, III, is a native of Birmingham, AL and husband to Dr. Valencia Wells. He is the owner of EscapeGFX®. Willie has worked earnestly to get it up and running smoothly. "Art has always been a clear destination for me ever since I was in elementary school. I was not sure what particular field I would go into, but I knew that the creative field would be ideal for me." A graduate of the University Of Alabama, Tuscaloosa with a double major in Graphic Design and Advertising, Willie is a person that is adamant about being punctual and giving the best efforts that he can, and this concept overflows into his company's operations. He understands that there are deadlines that need to be met, and other problems that may spring up, so the clients' work is done with a sense  never discarding the high level of creative design. "The customer is number 1 to me, and we, as a company, will venture many avenues to reach your project's escape from mediocrity."



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