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Bright future for brave Jaden

For many teenagers, sitting GCSEs this summer will be among the biggest challenges they’ve faced.

But for one brave 15-year-old, a bunch of exams is just the latest test of determination in what has been a remarkable journey of recovery and Birmingham Community Healthcare staff are walking with him every step of the way.

Jaden Payne has sickle cell disease and, in March 2017, he was rushed from school to hospital after suddenly feeling severe pain in his back during a lesson.

Barely able to walk, he was experiencing his first eversickle cell crisis – when a cluster of crescent-shaped red blood cells created a barrier blocking blood flow.

Jaden spent three weeks in Birmingham Children’s Hospital before doctors discharged him with a dietary plan to address the calcium deficiency identified as the main cause of the crisis.

But eight weeks later, he was back in hospital faced with a crisis of a different kind after a serious head injury in a road traffic accident. 

Jaden Powell and family
Jaden with (l-r) mum Suzanne, dad Shawon and sickle cell nurse Suzy Raybould.

Jaden had to be cut free from the wreckage of the car he had been travelling in before surgeons – again at Birmingham Children’s Hospital - performed a four-and-a-half-hour operation to remove a life-threatening blood clot.

He remained in a coma for 13 days before being discharged on his birthday in July 2017 – six weeks after the accident.   A year on, he continues to work with BCHC community physiotherapists at Allens Croft Children’sCentre a short walk from his home.

The sports-mad youngster - who had shown a talent and passion for cricket, football and athletics - had been training at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium for a place with Birchfield Harriers – but was forced to reassess his ambitions.

“I enjoyed team sports but my dream was to be an athlete – I was good at 100 metres," said Jaden.

"I was really upset I wasn’t able to take part in my school sports day last year so it meant a lot when I was able to ‘run’ the 100 metres with my dad pushing me in my wheelchair and my school friends with me.

“That meant a lot but I’ve been advised not to do any contact sports and all the work I’ve been doing  with physios to get my physical strength back has given me the idea to do sports physiotherapy as a career.”

Jaden’s mum Suzanne said her son’s innate ‘can-do’ spirit has been key to his continuing recovery.

“Jaden’s a fighter and that optimism and determination have really helped his recovery.

“Since the accident, he’s been on a football tour to Barcelona and joining in on school sports day with his mates meant a lot.

“He’s done amazingly but there’s still a long way to go to build his physical strength back up.   We’re so grateful to all the staff at the hospital and now the community physio team at Allens Croft – the support has been brilliant.

“And I make sure he eats a yoghurt every day before he goes to school to make sure he gets his daily dose of calcium.”

Sickle cell nurse Suzi Raybould explained that Jaden, like every child, had a routine ‘heel prick’ or ‘blood spot’ test a week or so after he was born – and at that early stage, Sickle Cell Disease was diagnosed.

“Sickle cell is most common among black and ethnic minority people but it’s not exclusive to those communities so every new-born child is screened at 7 to 10 days old,” she explained.

“Jaden’s a great character and typical of a young person who leads a full and active life while managing his condition.  So a crisis can be quite a shock to a family when it happens.

“I’ve been supporting him and his family since he was 2 months old.  Now he’s taller than me, it’s hard to believe that at one time I used to hold him in my arms when I came to visit!

“I’ve been with his family throughout the whole journey and I’m pleased to be there to offer that clinical, practical and emotional support through the challenges of the last few months.   It’s all part of the job!”