Monday, May 18, 2009

Meet Shayla

When Karon and William Ellington took their 11-month-old daughter, Shayla, for standard blood tests, she showed no noticeable signs of sickle cell anemia. Ten months later the Ellingtons were notified that Shayla did have the disease. Shayla, now 12-years-old, makes an effort to stay positive despite having sickle cell.

Sickle cell anemia is a condition where the red blood cells, which are normally round and flexible, are sticky, hard and shaped like crescent moons. This causes decreased oxygen and blood flow to certain parts of the body, which puts the person in intense pain. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease, and Shayla’s 6-year-old sister, Aliya, also suffers from sickle cell.

Shayla’s main symptom is intense pain, and though she has only been hospitalized twice this year, in the past she would have to visit The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton two or three times a month.

The Ellingtons were living in Japan at the time of Shayla’s diagnosis and came to Dayton Children’s because there were no facilities in Japan to effectively treat sickle cell.

“We were able to request to be near a hospital that could treat Shayla’s disease and they said that Dayton Children’s near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had the best facility,” says Karon.
Since they moved to the area for Shayla’s treatments, the Ellingtons have been more than pleased with the care they have received.

“It has been wonderful,” says Karon.

“Dayton Children’s has such a kid-friendly atmosphere, and the whole family feels comfortable and relaxed.”

Shayla also is thankful for the doctors, nurses and staff at Dayton Children’s, and says that she misses them all when she isn’t at the hospital.

“They do whatever is needed to make your stay better,” she says.

Though Shayla has bouts with pain and contracted parvovirus because of the anemia, she has made some extraordinary accomplishments.

She has consistently received top grades at Wiesenborn Middle School in Huber Heights, where she is currently in seventh grade, and she also skipped fourth grade. She received a signed letter from the President commemorating her outstanding grades and was nominated for the National Young Leaders State Conference.

Outside the classroom, Shayla is active in cheerleading, student council and choir, but she says music is her passion.

“I love to sing and I love to be the center of attention.”

Shayla hopes to become an R&B singer and wants to donate some of the proceeds from her concerts to charities.

Family Advocacy Day 2009

On June 17 and 18, 2009, patients and families from children’s hospitals across the country will travel to Washington, DC, to advocate on behalf of their hospitals as part of the fifth annual N.A.C.H. Family Advocacy Day.

Dayton Children's will be sending Shayla Ellington to help educate our legislators about the importance of children's health care and to share the story of what makes Dayton Children's such a special place.

Follow Shayla as she shares her story to illustrate why all children need children's hospitals.