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Sickle cell sisters

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

For Nazhi Forrest, having a sickle cell crisis can only be described as the single most painful sensation she’s ever experienced. As her oxygen levels drop, it becomes hard to breathe. Pinpricks of pain become sharp, stabbing sensations across her whole body. Nazhi is channeling her energy into sending love and support to others with sickle cell in the form of baked goods via her own foundation, and now she is facing another battle—to help her sister Shakarra access vital treatment

What is sickle cell disease?

Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. When they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

Baking with a purpose

Despite daily struggles with the symptoms of sickle cell, Nazhi still finds the energy to bake with a purpose. She started baking as a way to create a healthy lifestyle for their family when they had to alter their way of eating to accommodate the sickle cell diet. It wasn't just Nazhi who lived with the disease, but her two sisters as well. Nazhi then created her organisation, Nazhi Thee Baker Angel Foundation, which raises funds to deliver hundreds of sweet care packages to hospitalised children.

A family in crisis

Shakarra ill in her hospital bed - sleeping

But today, Nazhi’s sister, Shakarra is in crisis. Earlier this month, the 19-year-old suffered her third stroke. It was during that most recent hospitalisation that she was diagnosed with Moyamoya Syndrome, which causes cerebral hemorrhagic strokes and aneurysms.

This is a rare condition which her medical team in South Florida have been at a loss on how to manage. Shakarra needs specialised care out of state to fix a hole in her heart and blood vessels at the base of her brain.

Nazhi and Shakarra’s parents, Natasha and Ricky, are doing their best to keep life as normal and happy for the family as possible at home for all four of their children.

However, due to the care that Shakarra now needs, they’re finding themselves stretched beyond their already heroic limits and it is their hope that Shakarra access the surgery and care required.

Shakarra, Nazhi and family - smiling through difficult times
Shakarra, Nazhi and family - smiling through difficult times

With all of the efforts Nazhi, her family, and her foundation have put into the sickle cell and rare disease community, it is difficult for the family, who now themselves in need of support!

If you would like to find out how you can support Nazhi, Shakarra and their family please follow the hashtag #SMILESFORKARRA or visit the link below.


Learn more about Nazhi's sickle cell foundation here: Nazhi Thee Baker Angel Foundation

Follow on Instagram @Nazhitheebaker


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