We Can Avoid This - Sickle Cell

 The sad thing about the sickle cell scourge is that IT IS PRETTY MUCH AVOIDABLE. Say Ada, a
carrier of the sickle cell trait (AS), decides to ask questions about the genotype of every love interest of hers, she has succeeded in identifying a problem before it happens, ensuring that her children are safe from the disease. If she decides to ignore it and date Biodun, another carrier (AS) - in the name of love, what they’ve both succeeded in doing is making life miserable for their unborn generation and themselves as well.

The Sickle Cell Disease is a typical example of a disease that affects someone based on the mistakes of their parents. It is a disease that affects the blood. Rather than having circular red blood cells, the infected person ends up with red blood cells that take the shape of a sickle. This makes it unable for the red blood cells of that person to carry out its function of circulating oxygen to all the organs of the body. The sickle red blood cell even dies faster than the normal red blood cell. While the normal red blood cell has longevity of 120 days, the sickle one has between 10-20 days. Since it will be replaced in about 120 days from production, it means that the person begins to have insufficient oxygen and low total blood volume. This leads to anaemia, severe episodes of pain, frequent infections, delayed growth, vision problems, painful swellings in the hands and feet. Amongst the complications that the sickle cell disease presents are stroke, acute chest syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, organ failure, blindness, leg ulcers and gall stones. Not every ‘sickler’ gets to survive this.

So, as we mark the World Sickle Cell Day today, let us again be reminded that ‘IT IS VERY AVOIDABLE’. We can save our unborn children from the pain associated with this disease if we take positive steps to ensure that people are aware of their genotype so that they can make informed choices about their life partners. Let us join hands together to create a world free of the sickle cell scourge.

By Akudo Alli

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