Sickle Cell Disease is a group of disorders of the blood. It affects the part of the red blood that carries oxygen to all parts of the body called haemoglobin. This causes the red blood cell to have an abnormal shape and disrupt proper flow.
Sickle cell is almost always inherited from parents, each parent contributing one defective genetic material.
More than 80% of Sickle Cell cases are found in Africa and the tropics. This is because the presence of a sickle cell trait ( for example AS or AC) provides resistance to malaria, hence such people survive and reproduce more of the trait.
Sickle cell disease leads to extreme pain in sufferers, it makes them also more prone to developing anaemia, stroke, and other complications of the liver, spleen and most internal organs. Males with Sickle Cell Disease can also experience priapism, a very painful non-sexual erection of the penis that refuses to go down, that may need urgent surgical intervention. Problems with the hips and bones are also common.
Management of Sickle Cell has greatly improved, and with good vaccination, routine medical and emergency care I can say that Sickle Cell Disease is no longer a death sentence. People wilth Sickle Cell can live up to a ripe old age, have children, live normal lives. It is not true that Sickle Cell patients do not live beyond 21 years, that’s a cruel lie to keep spreading.
There’s no general cure for Sickle Cell Diseases per se. Bone marrow transplants are the only cure known to work in a limited number of cases involving children. It is however expensive to undertake and finding specific matches can prove difficult. It is however manageable.
Prospective parents can play a great role in reducing the incidence of Sickle Cell by knowing their genotype before choosing to have a baby. It is not advisable for two carriers ( AS and AS, AC and AS) to bring forth children, neither is it advisable for two sickle cell patients (SS and SS, SS and SC).
Everybody deserves happiness and companionship. It’s okay if two people with AS genotype decide to get married. What is not advisable is for them to decide to have children. Though two carriers (AS, AC, AF) have a 25% chance that EACH child can be AA, same chance exists for SS and indeed all your 6 kids could be SS. Don’t twaa lotto with your kids’ lives.
Remember, people with Sickle Cell Disease can NEVER transfer it to you if you live with them, touch them, even come in contact with body fluids…Sickle Cell is not a curse, it is a condition like any other where we need to love and support those suffering from it in the community and collaborate to help them have improved health outcomes.
James Mawuli Gawu.