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The month of September has been dedicated to raising awareness for Sickle Cell Disease . An important spotlight because it affects mostly the black race and mostly found in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates sickle-cell disease affects nearly 100 million people worldwide, and over 300 000 children are born every year with the condition.
What is Sickle Cell Disease ?
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited. This happens when both parents had a S in their hemoglobin genotype. The most common blood disorder is Sickle Cell Anaemia which is abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells.
What happens when someone has SIckle Cell Disease?
In sickle cell disease, the normal round shape of red blood cells becomes like crescent moons (sickled). Round red blood cells can move easily through the blood vessels but sickled shaped cells interconnect and can result in blood clots.
These blood clots can cause extreme pain in the back, chest, hands and feet. The disrupted blood flow can also cause damage to bones, muscles and organs. People with sickle cell disease often feel weak, tired and look pale. The whites of the eyes and skin often have a yellowish tint.
They usually have frequent attacks that can be triggered by cold temperatures, dehydration, excessive amounts of exercise and tobacco smoke. Other triggers such as plane flights and high altitudes can also trigger an attack.
Why do we need to take this seriously?
- children with the most severe form of the disease die before the age of 5.
- It is preventable by adult taking important genotype decisions
- Treatment is time intensive, expensive and mentally draining for both parents and affected child.
What does hemoglobin genotype mean?
Genotype is the complete heritable genetic identity; the sum total of genes transmitted from parent to offspring
There are four hemoglobin genotypes in humans: AA, AS, SS and AC (uncommon). SS and AC are the abnormal genotypes or the sickle cells. We all have a specific pair of these hemoglobin in our blood which we inherited from both parents.
Before getting married or planning to have a child it is imporant you know your genotype and that of your partner so as to ensure your compatibility
As a parent, you should ensure all your children know their genotype and its implication.
AA can marry anybody
AS, SS and SCb are better off with AA
AS and AS, AS and AC are too risky because they can produce an SS or AC child
Two sickle cells = avoid conceptionchild all together.
So as we celebrate National Sickle Cell Awareness Month please do a genotype test to know your statust and tell someone else too.
Dr Opeyemi Adeyemi is a medical doctor and a resident doctor in community medicine and primary healthcare. Had her medical training in Sumy State University, Ukraine and her Masters in Public Health from the University of South Wales, UK. She’s the author of two books on sexual and reproductive health.
ABOUT THE WRITER
She is the Executive Director of the Yemi Adeyemi Foundation which centres on Sexual and Reproductive health, the foundation runs the Brave Girls and Boys Club which delivers comprehensive sex education to young boys and girls. In April 2019 she ran a workshop TAASA (Taking Action Against Sexual Assault)
She has spoken on various platforms including TVC’s My View, Tedx Funaab, University of South Wales Student union conference.
You can follow through her Instagram account @@@@@ IG:https://www.instagram.com/dryemz