04:53 EST, 30 July 2012
05:25 EST, 30 July 2012
She has been dubbed the next Naomi Campbell and after being scouted in her local Primark at the tender age of fifteen, she sashayed down the Prada catwalk just a year later.
She then went on to be shot by the one-and-only Steven Meisel for Vogue and has shot campaigns for the most prestigious labels from Burberry to Yves Saint Laurent.
But, away from the catwalk, Jourdan Dunn’s life hasn’t always been so glamorous.
Talent: Hailed as the next Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn has walked for a variety of the hottest labels, here she walks in Calvin Klein’s show
With the rise of her career, came more and more difficulties.
She fell pregnant at the age of 18 and after giving birth to her son Riley, his father was arrested for possession of cocaine.
Jourdan was left in a predicament, left alone to balance her increasingly successful working life with her flailing personal life.
And things didn’t get any easier for the mother from Ealing after Riley was diagnosed with sickle-cell anaemia, an inherited, noncontagious blood disorder most common in people of Afro-Carribean or African descent.
Starting out: Jourdan Dunn won the award for best model at the 2008 British Fashion Awards
The disorder leaves sufferers with a shorter life expectancy and periods of sickle-cell crisis that last a few days and require serious medication and hospitalisation.
Although Jourdan doesn’t have the disease herself, she and the father of her son are among the 250,000 people in England estimated to carry the genetic mutation that causes it.
Speaking to Sunday Times Style magazine, the model said: ‘I found out I carried it when I was pregnant, which was a huge shock.
WHAT IS SICKLE-CELL ANAEMIA?
Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic blood disorder
in which red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, develop
These abnormal red blood cells can then clog sections of blood
vessels leading to episodes of pain which can be severe. These episodes
are called a sickle cell crisis.
They last from a few minutes to several months, though on average most last 5-7 days.
The abnormal blood cells have a shorter life-span and are not
replaced as quickly as normal; this leads to a shortage of red blood
cells, called anaemia. Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and
breathlessness; especially after exercise.
‘The first time Riley had a crisis, I was working in New York and due to travel to Puerto Rico. Mum was amazing and reassured me he was in the best hands and that I should keep working.’
Riley has to take penicillin and folic acid daily and Jourdan worries that more awareness should be raised about the disease.
She said: ‘It’s something people don’t really know about, due to the fact it’s genetic, so it doesn’t have the high profile of HIV or malaria,
‘Riley looks just like a normal boy, but I can’t get away from the fact he has a serious disease.’
Jourdan intends to use her status as a famous model to help garner more support for the Sickle Cell Society, which she strongly supports.
The model who was dubbed ‘chicken legs’ at school has come such a long way.
‘People have always stared at me, but not in a good way.
‘It made me almost not want to leave the house, but I made myself get over it by forcing myself to be more confident.’
Taking it in her stride, Jourdan has powered through life and juggled her thriving modelling career with the demands of being a single parent.
The modelling world has been extremely accommodating of Jourdan’s decision to be a mother first and a model second, with Jean-Paul Gaultier even making her a special pregnancy catwalk outfit for a show.
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My mother who is from Ghana has the trait, me and my two nieces all have Sickel Cell Thalassemia. These are not as serious or life threatening as having the full blown Sickle Cell Anaemia. If your a girl Issues usually start occurring around the time you start your period- tiredness, dizzyness and low hemoglobin and iron levels. These are managed by taking iron tablets, which I have been taken and I’ve seen improvements.
I have two children with the disorder and life for them have never been easy! Been told when they were just six months old that they would not live past double figures was very distressing, however they are both stil alive aged 31yrs and 29yrs and they have not only still alive they are both amazing adults. One became a nurse on the childrens ward that saved her life on more that 1 occasions. The other is now a parent of two little children life is not easy for them but they are loved loved and loved thank you god!
As a Nigerian, sickle cell anaemia is not strange to me. It is very important to find out your genotype and that of your boyfriend before deciding to get married or/and have children.Make sure you find your genotype and help spare your children the pain. If you and your partner are both AS, then it would not be advisable to have a child together as there is a 1/4 chance of your child being SS(having sickle cell). Sickle cell is a very heartbreaking condition and it must be difficult to watch your child go through the crises( this is what the attacks are called) and a lot of the people suffering from this condition don’t live very long (relatively speaking)
my baby was diagnosed last year with sickle cell anemia, I wish more could be done to get people to understand about this disease. it has been hard
Blood transfusions or hydroxyurea therapy…Hemaglobinopathy is my specialty.
Very well done to the Daily Mail for covering a story on a disease that is not commonly known by the masses. Salute… more of this please.
well done DM for highlighting Sickle Cell Anaemia my 12yr old daughter is also Living with this condition and as a single mum holding down a job and being my daughters carer I can relate to Jourdana and how she copes. than you x x x x
Well done Jourdan for raising the profile of Sickle Cell. I am also a carrier, as is my husband. Fortunately, the disorder was not passed onto my children. Like Jourdan, I only found out I was a carrier as well when I was pregnant.
Unfortunately, this disease can kill. I’ve seen people have ‘crises’, and its so sad. Once again, I hope by Jourdan fronting this campaign that the profile can be raised and much needed funding given.
Also, DM, the term ‘Afro-Caribbean’ is a very archaic term to use now. The correct term is ‘African-Caribbean’, just FYI
As a sufferer of sickle cell myself , it can be frustrating that the disease is not well known of and in some circumstances not taken seriously. its great to hear that Jourdan is using her celebrity status to create awareness. Just like her many Africans and carribeans dont know they may be carriers of the disease and go on to have children who are sufferers. this will hopefully encourage people to be tested before planning a family.
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