Gabriel triumphs over Sickle Cell Disease with help from his
Rainbow family.

Family Matters

For Gabriel, a fever of 101 degrees F or higher means an automatic trip to the pediatric emergency room at University Hospitals for a blood draw and evaluation. Gabriel, 8, has Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells, leading to anemia, pain and other symptoms. Common illnesses like the flu can quickly become dangerous for a person with SCD and lead to a host of complications.

With the exception of a health scare when Gabriel was one year old, the disease hasn’t stopped Gabriel from enjoying friends, school, video games and family life, said his mom, Ebony Moore. She plays a major role in keeping Gabriel as healthy as possible and stays on the lookout for warning signs such as fatigue.

"He gets more tired than other kids so we take more breaks. If he gets a cold, it takes him longer than most kids to get better. Kids with sickle cell also have to avoid weather extremes – if it's too hot or too cold, we don't go out as much. But these are just precautions. Overall, he is a happy, active boy. He hasn’t had any health crisis, but it could happen," she said.

Diagnosed when he was just a week old, Gabriel became a patient of Connie Piccone, MD, Clinical Director of the Pediatric Sickle Cell Anemia Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Through biannual checkups, Dr. Piccone and her team, which includes a full-time nurse practitioner, clinical nurses, social worker, school intervention specialist, dietician and genetics counselor, make sure that patients like Gabriel stay as healthy as possible.

They also make sure that families feel supported. "We have conversations all the time about how I'm doing," said Ebony. "They don't just take blood work and send him on his way. They really care. Having Rainbow is like having an extended family that you can go to with your kids."

"When we meet families for the first time, I always tell parents/grandparents/caregivers 'you're stuck with us, through the good and the bad,'" said Dr. Piccone. "We want our families to know that we're in this fight together to keep their child as happy and healthy as we can."

To support UH care for patients like Gabriel, make a gift to Dominic's Endowed Fund. It helps support research efforts to improve treatment options and improve quality of life for patients with hemophilia and blood disorders, including sickle cell, aplastic anemia, coagulation and platelet disorders.