From catwalk queen to campaigning mum: 21-year-old supermodel Jourdan Dunn on coping with her son's sickle-cell anaemia condition
10:25 GMT, 30 July 2012
She has been dubbed the next Naomi Campbell and after being scouted in her local Primark at the tender age of fifteen, she sashayed down the Prada catwalk just a year later.
She then went on to be shot by the one-and-only Steven Meisel for Vogue and has shot campaigns for the most prestigious labels from Burberry to Yves Saint Laurent.
But, away from the catwalk, Jourdan Dunn's life hasn't always been so glamorous.
Talent: Hailed as the next Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn has walked for a variety of the hottest labels, here she walks in Calvin Klein's show
With the rise of her career, came more and more difficulties.
She fell pregnant at the age of 18 and after giving birth to her son Riley, his father was arrested for possession of cocaine.
Jourdan was left in a predicament, left alone to balance her increasingly successful working life with her flailing personal life.
And things didn't get any easier for the mother from Ealing after Riley was diagnosed with sickle-cell anaemia, an inherited, noncontagious blood disorder most common in people of Afro-Carribean or African descent.
Starting out: Jourdan Dunn won the award for best model at the 2008 British Fashion Awards
The disorder leaves sufferers with a shorter life expectancy and periods of sickle-cell crisis that last a few days and require serious medication and hospitalisation.
Although Jourdan doesn't have the disease herself, she and the father of her son are among the 250,000 people in England estimated to carry the genetic mutation that causes it.
Speaking to Sunday Times Style magazine, the model said: 'I found out I carried it when I was pregnant, which was a huge shock.
WHAT IS SICKLE-CELL ANAEMIA
Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic blood disorder
in which red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, develop
These abnormal red blood cells can then clog sections of blood
vessels leading to episodes of pain which can be severe. These episodes
are called a sickle cell crisis.
They last from a few minutes to several months, though on average most last 5-7 days.
The abnormal blood cells have a shorter life-span and are not
replaced as quickly as normal; this leads to a shortage of red blood
cells, called anaemia. Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and
breathlessness; especially after exercise.
'The first time Riley had a crisis, I was working in New York and due to travel to Puerto Rico. Mum was amazing and reassured me he was in the best hands and that I should keep working.'
Riley has to take penicillin and folic acid daily and Jourdan worries that more awareness should be raised about the disease.
She said: 'It's something people don't really know about, due to the fact it's genetic, so it doesn't have the high profile of HIV or malaria,
'Riley looks just like a normal boy, but I can't get away from the fact he has a serious disease.'
Jourdan intends to use her status as a famous model to help garner more support for the Sickle Cell Society, which she strongly supports.
The model who was dubbed 'chicken legs' at school has come such a long way.
'People have always stared at me, but not in a good way.
'It made me almost not want to leave the house, but I made myself get over it by forcing myself to be more confident.'
Taking it in her stride, Jourdan has powered through life and juggled her thriving modelling career with the demands of being a single parent.
The modelling world has been extremely accommodating of Jourdan's decision to be a mother first and a model second, with Jean-Paul Gaultier even making her a special pregnancy catwalk outfit for a show.