Health & Wellness

Press Releases

Newark Student and Sickle Cell Patient at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey Inspires her Family and Medical Team

Newark resident Makkah Kennedy

September is Sickle Cell Anemia Month. During this time the Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, located at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center hopes to call attention to this condition by spotlighting a courageous young patient who continues to persevere in school and life despite medical setbacks.

Newark resident Makkah Kennedy was only one month old when she experienced her first pain crisis and was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia.  Makkah suffers from a severe form of the disease and as she grew, she generally had three or four admittances to the hospital each month, which began to affect her ability to keep up with school.

Then, a year ago, Makkah began a new treatment at the Valerie Fund Center, using hydroxyurea, which is prescribed for patients with moderate-to-severe sickle cell disease to help reduce the frequency of pain episodes and acute chest syndrome. The medication has greatly reduced her hospitalizations to fewer than three or four in a full year.

Sign Up for E-News

Through all her medical ups and downs, Makkah has maintained a very positive attitude.

“This little person who we are so blessed to have always continues to persevere,” says her mother, Lathrsha Kennedy. “She has suffered from the worst, most severe pain possible, but it never disables her. Makkah has always had a strong faith and that she keeps going.”

The medical team at the Valerie Fund Center admires Makkah’s perseverance as much as her family does.

“Makkah is a joy and an inspiration,” says Peri Kamalakar, MD, Pediatric Hematologist /Oncologist and Medical Director of The Valerie Fund Children’s s at all three sites of Barnabas Health system. ”She is a good student with an excellent attitude and has excelled over the past few years despite her complications with sickle cell disease. Her parents are very involved in her life and she travels with her school on trips and enjoys helping others.”

Lathrsha Kennedy and her husband, Darshawn, have four children, and Makkah is a twin. Now a student at North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, Makkah enjoys singing, cooking, especially pancakes, watching American Idol and spending time with her cousins and siblings. In particular her older sister, Amora, helps her to cope with her condition and express her concerns.

When she has a painful day, Makkah says that she takes deep breaths and prays for help to get through the difficult times.

Her advice to children with sickle cell disease is to never stop trying to achieve their dreams.

“You have to be strong,” she says. “You can never give up when you are dealing with school and life. You just have to keep going.”

Now, with her new treatment from CHoNJ, the Kennedy family is more hopeful than ever about Makkah’s improved health.

“We see a brighter future for Makkah,” her mother says.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Mon, June 4, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Tue, June 5, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Wed, June 6, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Goethals Bridge to New Jersey to be Closed Friday Night through Sunday

May 16, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Goethals Bridge to New Jersey will be closed to all traffic beginning 9 p.m. Friday, May 18 until 9 p.m. Sunday, May 20. 

The Eastbound to NY will remain open. Officials said the closure is necessary to construct the entry and exit ramps for the new westbound span.

At 9 p.m. Sunday night, the westbound span is expected to open in its final configuration, three ...

The 15th Annual Tour de Elizabeth Comes to Elizabeth this Sunday

ELIZABETH, NJ - Cyclists of every skill level are readying their bicycles in anticipation as the 15th annual Tour de Elizabeth that will roll through the city.\ this coming Sunday. 

This year’s ride, which is titled “Destination Elizabeth,” will begin and end at City Hall, is a family-friendly, 15-mile recreational tour of the City of Elizabeth’s historic ...

Suspect Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Flees Country

May 22, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A 36-year-old suspect charged in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian May 15th has fled the country, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Charges have been filed against Mario Infante, age 36, of New Street, Plainfield, following an investigation by detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office and North Plainfield ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

How to Find Beneficial Native Plants for Healthy Yards and Gardens

May 24, 2018

Home gardeners and property managers who are interested in joining the native plant movement can get resources and information – and plants – through the Union County “Plant Swap & Shop” event on Thursday evening, June 7, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Union County Demonstration Garden in the Watchung Reservation.

Plant Swap & Shop is free but re-registration is ...