Jourdan Dunn reveals 'guilt and shame' at passing sickle cell disease on to her son

·2-min read
Jourdan Dunn has said she carries the genetic
Jourdan Dunn has said she carries the genetic 'trait' for sickle cell disease. (Getty Images)

She regularly shares smiling pictures of the pair to social media – but family life hasn't always been so straightforward for Jourdan Dunn and her young son Riley.

The model, 30, has revealed how she suffered "mentally" with the thought that she may have passed on sickle cell disease to the 11-year-old. 

Speaking to The Sunday Times' Style magazine, she said: "I was going through a lot of guilt and shame because I felt I’d given this to my son – I have the [genetic] trait – and I had to hold that in.”

The condition is an inherited blood disorder that can cause lung conditions, fatal infections and strokes.

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It can appear in those of any race or ethnicity, but it affects Black people at far higher rates – and between 12,500 and 15,000 people currently have it in the UK.

Dunn, who has been supported by her mum in caring for Riley, is now a trustee of the Essenelle Foundation, a mental health charity providing support to people with sickle cell and their families.

Watch: 11-year-old sickle cell sufferer says more support is needed for people with the disease

Her son had his first sickle cell crisis as a baby, when he had a blood transfusion, and ended up in hospital again recently. 

The model, who gave birth to him aged 19 and split with his father at an early age, recently became engaged to the rapper and designer Dion Hamilton.

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Dunn – who has walked the catwalk for the likes of Burberry and Dior and graced the cover of Vogue – also opened up about being, for a time, one of the few Black women in the fashion industry.

She said: "I remember being backstage at shows and whenever they’d be doing the Black girls’ hair and it’s steaming up, someone would be making a joke about that: ‘Ooooh! The Black girls are in the building!’’’ 

The mother-of-one added: "Previously, I’d have stayed quiet – nobody wanted to ruffle any feathers. 

"But now I’m, like, ‘Listen, I’ve got a platform, I’ve got a mouth. And I’m going to speak on issues that are important to me."

Watch: 'I'm paid less because of my skin tone', says Jourdan Dunn