Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Denzel Charleston, a portrait

Denzel 1

Denzel Charleston, 8, of Leoni Township laughs as his mother Amanda Swiontek, 31, tickles him, holding his arms around him so he can not make a move at their house on Friday afternoon. Denzel, a third grader at East Jackson Memorial Elementary, was born with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.

Since Denzel's birth, he has been tested every three months for lymphoma. His syndrome weakens his immune system, which could put Denzel in the hospital from a simple cold. It also does not allow his blood to clot, meaning Denzel could hemorrhage uncontrollably from a minor fall.

"We never put him in a bubble," said Denzel's grandmother, Mary Swiontek. "We let him be a boy."

Denzel will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant in Cincinnati, Ohio in the next three months. Without the transplant, his life expectancy is a maximum of 19 years of age.

"I hate being sick," Denzel said. "It so hard to have friends like this, and with the transplant, I can only be around so many people. I won't have any friends. It stinks."