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Meet Yakimbria - Phoebe Foundation CMN Feature

Meet Yakimbria

"Living with sickle cell disease can be incredibly difficult, painful, and scary, but Yakimbria stays positive and lives life to the fullest!"

When Yakimbria was born on January 27, 2002, she was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Yakimbria was born at Phoebe and spent a week in Phoebe’s NICU because she was born with a high fever that needed to stabilize before she could go home.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood cell disorder that causes abnormal hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Red blood cells that contain normal hemoglobin are disc shaped, allowing the cells to be flexible so that they can move through large and small blood vessels to deliver oxygen. Sickle cell disease creates crescent, or sickle shaped cells. Sickle-shaped cells are not flexible and can stick to vessel walls, causing a blockage that slows or stops the flow of blood. When this happens, oxygen can’t reach nearby tissues. The lack of tissue oxygen can cause attacks of sudden, severe pain, called pain crises. These pain attacks can occur without warning and often require a hospital visit for effective treatment.

Yakimbria showed normal blood work the first half of her life, and she was not experiencing many symptoms of sickle cell disease. When Yakimbria was nine years old, she was complaining to her mother, Jessica, that she was in extreme pain, so her parents took her to Phoebe. Her hemoglobin was average, but Jessica had a feeling that something wasn’t right. In the next few days, her hemoglobin dropped significantly and she became so swollen from the waist down that she couldn’t walk. Yakimbria’s kidney and lung function decreased and it appeared her body was shutting down. Jessica was terrified. Yakimbria spent about a week in the hospital and received a blood transfusion and eventually got well enough to go home.

Since this hospital visit, Yakimbria experiences a sickle cell flare up every few months, and she knows what it means to live with sickle cell disease. When Yakimbria’s sickle cell disease flares up, she experiences intense swelling, pain all over her body, migraines, and limited use of her hands and feet. Changing temperatures can trigger a flare up, but they are often unexpected. It is extremely important to keep Yakimbria’s body temperature regulated, so she often has to wear layers and swimming during the summer is a struggle for her.

Yakimbria is a frequent flyer in Phoebe’s Pediatric Unit and she also goes to the Pediatric Specialty Clinic in Albany to see her hematology/oncology specialist from Augusta every 3-4 months. Phoebe has become a very familiar place to Yakimbria, and she feels like family at Phoebe.

“I know that Yakimbria is in the best hands when she is here. I have to leave sometimes for a few hours to take care of my younger kids and I know the staff is always there for her. The nurses are wonderful and everything they do is out of love.” Said Jessica, Yakimbria’s mother.

Yakimbria is a beautiful fifteen year old girl with the brightest smile you have ever seen! Even when she is in the hospital, she has a positive attitude and does not let sickle cell disease affect her life. In her free time, Yakimbria loves performing concerts in her room. She wants to be a private investigator when she grows up, and watches the show “Bones” whenever she can to learn more about this field.

Living with sickle cell disease can be incredibly difficult, painful, and scary, but we are happy to see our miracle child Yakimbria living life the fullest despite sickle cell disease!

For more information, call Phoebe Foundation at 229-312-4483 or toll-free at 877-312-4483. You can also email Phoebe Foundation at