Meet Sleeping Beauty

Chaniya Jackson, Age 12, from Akron, Ohio

Sidekicks: Gannett (Grandma) Grace, Mr. Carzoo, Miss Heather and Dr. Jyoti Krishna

When she’s not busy overcoming obstacles: Chaniya enjoys going to school and having friends and family over for a visit.

Did you know fact: Chaniya is left handed.

Why Chaniya is a #ACHero: Born with Down syndrome, Chaniya has never let her condition get in the way of learning new things. With patience, the right teachers and a sleep study she’s found the perfect rhythm to school and life.

Chaniya’s Story: When Bianca first laid eyes on her sweet baby girl, she had no idea the medical journey they would begin the following week.

Just after delivery, doctors examined Chaniya and ran a few tests to rule out suspicions. A week later, at her first checkup, Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics pediatrician Dr. Paul Schuh confirmed Chaniya had Down syndrome (DS).

“It’s typically a condition that’s identified before the baby is born so I was in total shock,” said mom, Bianca Peters. “I was scared for her…I didn’t really know what kind of care she was going to need.”

DS is a genetic condition that can cause delays in the way a child develops mentally and physically.

“One of the first struggles Chaniya had was sinus drainage and congestion…she had a lot of drainage,” said Bianca. “She was hospitalized for pneumonia a few times in her first couple years, too, so I talked to the doctor about what we could do to help her.”

To relieve pressure and pain caused by the drainage, Chaniya’s otolaryngologist Dr. Jeffrey Masin recommended she have her adenoids and tonsils removed.

After a successful surgery, Chaniya started preschool. She was doing well, learning sign language, colors and how to play with others. But, at a routine checkup, Chaniya’s pediatrician noticed her heart didn’t sound right and referred her to a cardiologist.

Almost half of all children born with DS have a congenital heart defect and Chaniya was one of them.

Chaniya met with Akron Children’s cardiologist, Dr. David Waight who diagnosed her with atrial septal defect (ASD). ASD, sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart, is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart (the atria).

For the next 2 years, Chaniya came in for regular checkups with her doctor to make sure the holes were closing up on their own. But, by age 5, it was clear the holes weren’t closing so Chaniya underwent surgery to close them.

The next few years, Chaniya seemed to be doing well, but her grandmother grew concerned with Chaniya’s sleeping pattern. At age 10, Chaniya’s mom brought her to Akron Children’s Sleep Center for an evaluation.

After a sleep study test, Dr. Jyoti Krishna diagnosed Chaniya with severe sleep apnea. She needed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and mask to help keep her airway open when she slept. Chaniya didn’t like sleeping with the mask on and, at a follow-up appointment, tests showed she wasn’t improving.

“I absolutely love Dr. Krishna,” said Bianca. “He told me upfront just how bad Chaniya’s breathing was…I told Chaniya she had to start using that CPAP no matter how difficult it was. I prayed on it and I’m proud to say Chaniya has been sleeping with the machine non-stop for the past year. She won’t go to sleep without it.”

Chaniya visits the Sleep Center twice a year for a checkup and has a sleep study done once a year to make sure the pressure in the machine is calibrated correctly.

“Dr. Krishna is such a thorough doctor,” said Bianca. “He always asks me about other areas of Chaniya’s health when we visit…he really wants the best for her.”

Chaniya’s family is noticing positive differences in Chaniya’s behavior and academics at school, now, which they feel is due to a good night’s rest, her puppy named Princess, and to her new teachers Mr. Carzoo and Miss Heather.

“I used to get calls from school about Chaniya’s bad behavior and now she’s coming home with A’s on her report card and asking when she can go back because she loves school and her amazing teachers,” said Bianca. “I am so thankful for Dr. Krishna and her teachers who all work so hard to help her.”

Meet Sleeping Beauty (Chaniya Jackson) at the Akron Marathon
on September 24.


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