SICKLE CELL AND LOVE- Do you ask about genotype on the First Date?
75 per cent of people who are victims of Sickle Cell Disease never get to see their fifth birthday, an NGO, the Sickle Cell Support Network says Nigeria records about 150,000 sickle cell births annually and this is the statistics.
It hurts me to write about this. I have had a patient write to me on instagram and I wish I could do something about it but I coulnt do a lot, I wrote to a Sickle cell support group on instagram, both DM and comment, but it appears they have too many followers and I couldn’t get any attention, neither could the boy. He sent me pictures, and hospital bills, I was in pains.
“Sickle is a medical condition and not inflicted upon us by one spiritual force or deity, people are born with it and it is not contagious but inherited.’’ Dr. Deborah Onokpono, the President of the NGO mentioned in my first paragraph, said this in an interview in Calabar as part of efforts to create awareness on the condition
Onokpono said though we have what we call bone marrow transplant, which gives a patient a 50:50 survival chance, the condition had no cure yet. She noted that the awareness is still low in Nigeria when you compare it to HIV and stigmatisation is high as the victims are seen as people who would die soon.
I know a few people who have gone past the age of 5 and who are living with sickle cell. One of them, in 2012, was a friend of mine, he had clocked 41, I had a seat mate in secondary school, I have lost contact with her but her name is Promise, she was a victim too, I also know someone in Benin, a close friend of my sister’s, and my immediate younger sister also knows someone in Asaba. My sister has lost a friend to sickle cell crisis, I guess two. It’s really sad when you have to lose your friends in succession like that. According to the Mayo Clinic, in the US, it most commonly affects African Americans.
These children go through a lot of pain, it is always advised that if your genotype is AS, you shouldn’t marry someone who has the AS genotype too, but when I shared this information with a friend of mine, she is American, she asked me, “At what point do you ask a person what their genotype is? Is it on the first date, or you wait till you have both fallen in love and then it becomes harder to get out”.
I don’t know, you meet a great guy, he is perfect and all, but then you have to break up with him because you are both AS, even though the chances of having SS kids are about 50:50, but you just break up with a nice lady because you don’t want your children to suffer. There has to be a cure for this…
We will keep our fingers crossed and keep sending out our love and prayers to those who are victims.