His next challenge came when he was just eight weeks of age. Alex was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, an illness that would affect him for the rest of his life.
While his family remained hopeful that AJ would lead a normal life, the severity of his illness became clear with his first sickle cell crisis. By age 6 months, AJ had his first ‘crisis’ admission. At that point, his admissions became more frequent with episodes occurring as often as every 3 to 6 weeks. In too much pain to be held, Alex would lay in the crib comforted by his pacifier and the knowledge that his family was by his side.
He got to know his threshold for pain very early on and would often play through it until it was no longer bearable. He would verbalize his pain at that time because he knew that the only way to make it go away would be by going to the hospital. He also knew that he couldn’t do things that other children could do like playing in the snow or going to a waterpark because it would cause a crisis. He just accepted this!
In 2016, AJ became a big brother. These boys shared a bond that most siblings don’t generally experience until adulthood. They played hard, loved hard, and shared everything (even their bone marrow).
On September 21, 2016 Alex received a bone marrow transplant, a selfless gift given to him by his baby brother Avery. It was a grueling time filled with countless procedures, chemotherapy, needle sticks, and isolation. AJ did not let this break his spirit, he focused on the fact that this would cure his sickle cell disease and he fought on.
AJ recovered from him transplant. He got to attend school with his friends, build a snowman, and even spend hot days running through the sprinklers. For his 6th birthday his family made his dream of having a pool party come true. When they asked if he was enjoying himself, he said “It was the best day ever!” He had no more pain, no more hospitalization, and no more sickle cell disease. This fierce warrior finally got to stop fighting. Avery gave him the best year of his life!
On October 26, 2017, for reasons unknown, Alex passed away suddenly with his family by his side. In six short years he was able to leave his mark on the world! He taught us that we must live our lives to the fullest and love with all of our heart.
As members of his healthcare team, we were in awe of AJ and his family. He was always polite, never complained, and he took it like a champ. He would even say thank you after getting a shot or an IV because he knew we were helping him. His family was equally amazing. We all know it takes a village and AJ had that village. His grandmother Joyce, and Aunt Keicha were his other mothers.
They were always surrounded by family and friends because despite all that they were going through they would always be the first to step up when someone needs a helping hand. Please help us return the favor.
All money raised will go directly to AJs funeral expenses and outstanding hospital expenses. If we are fortunate enough to raise more, this will be directed towards the family. Lakeicha Walker-Harris, AJ’s aunt, has been made beneficiary of the campaign and will manage funds for AJ’s parents.
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