Sickle cell trait is the term many Nigerians are familiar with. In my childhood, I imagined it to be disease that can only be seen in educated and well off peoples’ homes this is because most children with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) never made it beyond infant, so quite rare to see one around.
In Yoruba we call it Arunmọ́leegun (pain in the bone).
In my third year secondary school a friend’s sister joined my school. She had SCD. Her older sister is a good friend but *Ayo joining our school is an added incentive to visit her home just because I and other girls were curious. Other than the fact that Ayo got sick a lot and had plenty of medications to take, she is pretty much like any other girl both at home and at school.
To date she was the only one I knew who made it through secondary school. This is not to say that we do not have plenty of Sickle Cell Disease patients, it’s just that they died in infant.
Ayo’s parents are educated, father a barrister and mother, a teacher. They have three children, it was only Ayo who had SS. Ayo was well into her 20s before her untimely death, which came as a shock as everyone thinks she has had the hard part behind her.
Although Nigeria has large number of people with SCD and Sickle Cell Traits (SCT), knowledge about treatment remains very low and not too surprising that there is a stigma to it.
In the last decade, there has been increasing conversations especially among the youths about ways to avoid SSD., thanks to secondary school biology.
One of the commonly shared advice both on and off line was that young couple in relationships must do blood test to determine if they had SCT. I read that an AS must not marry another AS to avoid the risk of having an SS child.
I have heard quite a few of relationships break up this way but I am thinking if everyone in Nigeria who has SCT and SCD are seen to be unsuitable for a partner, Aren’t we going to have bigger issue in future?
I don’t understand the unnecessary fear about the AS and AS getting together because, although they have 25% chance of having an SS child, but they still have a 50% chance of AS child and 25% chance of an AA – I would have thought this isn’t a bad odd given life on it own if full of risks anyway.
Apart from people ‘alienating’ us AS people, glad there are people out there with SSD and testimonies to cheer some soul up, I found Tosin’s website. She is Sickle Cell Warrior who has a lot to share with youths who are concerned about partners with SCT. Her website is quite impressive and speaks to the mind of modern people who are interested in understanding their odds and at the same time live life while it lasts, whatever the odds.
Here is another valuable information on SCD diagnosis and treatment.
*Not her real name