My name is Maureen Nwachi and I’m one of Alright’s Passion counsellors. I will take us through a short or long discourse regarding our genotype and decisions we make before and/or in marriage.

Do You Know Your Genotype?

According to Google, genotype is the set of genes in our DNA which is responsible for trait. Most of us know we get our genotype from each parent. Common genotypes include; AA, AC, AS, SC, SS. I’m sure you may be wondering where the C came from. It is simply the genetic makeup of a human.

We are romantics learning how to romance like God but in romancing like God, there are things that can decide against our happiness relationships. Some of these things can make love disappear because the people involved may have little or no knowledge about what they are dealing with. There are certain medical tests required to be done before two individuals are allowed to go into marriage and one of such tests is the genotype test.

I want to believe we all know why we need take this particular test. I believe some of us have seen something like this before:

AA + AA  = very good

AA + AS  = good

AS + AS  = bad

AS + SS  = very bad

SS + SS  = don’t try it

This cracks me up sha. As important as it is to know your genotype and heed to some advice, it is more important to know and understand thyself. Now the major reason I’m teaching today is because I’m an advocate for Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD)

Why did I choose this path?

I’ve been living with SCD for 32years and I have 2 older siblings living with SCD. When love starts sharking some people, they will say “it doesn’t matter what our genotypes are, we will overcome, God will see us through, God can still perform miracles….” My dear romantics, when love done de shark you, abeg make e no shark you reach this side. Make your eyes clear well well o.

Is it a sin or taboo to fall in love with someone with AC or AS genotype when you’re also of same genotype? Me I no know as na fall una de fall. But when you choose to love, you love wholly, without conditions, with no exceptions but with your eyes open.

A lot of people will choose not to marry people with genotype AC or AS if theirs is same due to things they’ve either seen or heard. For those that have heard, biko confirm well. Some are just myths. But for those who choose to go ahead AC + AS or AC + AC or AS + AS. I have these to say:

1. Don’t say it is love o.

2. Do your background checks and understand what this condition called sickle cell is all about.

Never rely on hearsay because each person living with SCD has a different demon to deal with. Yes, we are uniquely different like that. For example, I once had a complication called osteomylitis which made doctors place me on a certain antibiotic for over 6 months. What is osteomylitis? It is a kind of inflammation of the bone caused by infections. The Cray results showed I had a hole in my bone so my activities became limited. My elder sister used to suffer from acute chest syndrome. She needed to be on oxygen most times. My elder brother presently has end stage kidney failure. All the above were, and are as a result of sickle cell anaemia

What is sickle cell anaemia/disorder?

It is an inherited blood disorder. It is inherited from both parents with genotype AC or AS. The children then borrow the C or S gene from each parent which now makes their genotype SC or SS.

What is the implication of having two S genes?

The blood cells of people whose genotypes are AA or AS die after every 4 months (120days). The blood cells of those living with SCD live for just 10-20 days.

What are the components of your blood?

Oxygen

Antibodies

Nutrients/vitamins e.t.c.
These are the very basic ones.

When the sickle red blood dies so fast, it means people living with SCD have lesser nutrient, lesser oxygen, and fewer antibodies. This means we need foods rich in nutrients more frequently/often, we tire more easily since we lack oxygen, we are prone to infections since the antibodies required to fight off infections are fewer. In other words, na egg we be… That’s how it seems o beht me na.

Why is it called sickle cell?

This group of blood cells is shaped like the alphabet C, just like a sickle used in pruning flowers. Unlike the normal blood cells that are round like O which can very easily make their way up and down the veins and arteries, the sickle red cells get stuck sometimes due to their shape. When they do get stuck (mostly around the joints) they block the way for other blood cells to pass and this in turn causes what is popularly called “crisis pain”.

Apart from the painful episodes which most people with SCD suffer from, there are quite a huge number of complications people living with SCD can also suffer from.

Why?

Instead of blood moving through the bloodstream easily, sickle cells can clog blood vessels. When blood can’t get where it’s needed, the body’s tissues and organs don’t have the oxygen they need to stay healthy. Another reason is that during the crisis, dead blood cells give off toxins and when these toxic wastes are not excreted fast, it poses a risk to our organs and tissues

Examples of other complications include:

Blindness,

Stroke,

Kidney failure,

Osteomylitis,

Liver malfunction,

Priapism,

Leg ulcers that may not heal for up to 10years,

Bone infarctions (avascular necrosis meaning death of the bone at certain joints because blood stopped reaching there),

Acute chest syndrome (this is lookalike to tuberculosis/pneumoniae) and kills fast if not diagnosed accurately e.t.c.

E plenty jor. Why e plenty?

Because na blood and nowhere wey blood no dey reach and all parts of our body even our brain need oxygen.

My advice for people who are AS or AC or SS or SC that still want to get married is to understand the intricacies of the subject matter. Some say they will make plenty money to care for the children, awesome! However, while your money offers palliative care, keep in mind that it does not take away the pain of the child.It is mind bugging, energy sapping, emotionally draining, financially decapitating. So choose wisely. If you say God asked you to go ahead, keep in mind that you have to keep head above water no matter what, should the reggae start. Should you decide to go ahead, read about the subject matter.

Read

Read

Keep reading.

Visit places where you can meet people living with SCD to learn more just in case you eventually have a child like that.
Can people living with SCD live long and live healthy?

Hell yeah. No be everyday people de die? Even those whose genotypes are AA suffer from certain complications sometimes. Some just sleep and die, while some die anyhow. Sickle Cell Disorder is not a death sentence o. As a friend of mine says “Sickle cell na big man disease, biko know your genotype and make an informed decision before love carry you blindly.”

I know a couple who got married (wife AS, husband SS) and they chose to adopt. Our culture is yet to allow us do some things but I am glad to see people challenge the norms of our society. That is love and they understand that marriage isn’t only for procreation. There are lots of options out there if love no gree una. There are so many options to help with the child rearing process. Thank God for science and technology. Though no be all options me go advice as Christian.

The only reason I believe churches make medical tests compulsory is for them to know if the lady is pregnant and perhaps HIV. Biko, for your own good and the good of your loved one(s) go for genotype tests in certified institutions; Teaching hospitals, Genotype Centres. Some NGOs offer this for free. Do it more than twice.

Some of the places your church will ask you to go for tests have no clue what the difference between a lab technician and lab scientist is that’s why there are so many mistakes. Do the one your church wants but go for your genotype tests elsewhere.

I’ve seen cases where parents had to separate because of this. I’ve seen parents crying because of this mistake and looking for a way out. I have seen many women suffer miscarriages because of this.

I work with Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management Initiative. We be NGO o. We have free clinic tagged XtraCare every 3rd Saturday of every month. Free genotype tests, free counselling, free consultation and free drugs with lots of fun. Venue is 15 Modupe Johnson crescent off Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos State. Time is 9am. We are open on week days as well. I can be reached via Whatsapp-any time +2348059034939.

Contributions from Toluse Dove Francis:

The SC variant is when one gene is mutated to the S form (as mentioned above) and the other is mutated to the C variant, which is also abnormal. Again, people with just one hemoglobin C mutation usually do not experience any medical issues from it, even if both hemoglobin genes are mutated to the C form, usually only mild anemia results.

For people with one S and one C mutation, called sickle cell-hemoglobin C, they have less episodes of their blood cells clumping together than do people with SS, so they have less pain crises. However, they also have more significant degeneration of bone, retinopathy (degradation of the retina), and increased risk of experiencing priapism.

Medically so far, there has been no proof as to who lives longer. There are some SS who lived up to 70 and some SC already passed away. The key basically is to know your genotype and pay attention to your health.Sadly, no genotype is supreme. Yes you read it; No genotype is supreme. If you are AA and your dancing up and down, you have an enemy; Malaria

Malaria hates the AA genotype and that is why it knocks them down greatly. The structure of the blood cell aids this the more. My admonition is this: get educated and get enlightened. Don’t discriminate.

Let me bring something here: I tell people “love with your head but go with your heart.”  Speak the word, Believe the word, Act the word

Back to Maureen:

The bone marrow transplant is no guarantee that the person’s genotype will change

It’s like a placebo. The person lives a complication and crisis free life but the S genes can still be passed on to off spring. It is still experimental. If anyone is telling you with money the genotype can change, tell dem say na woju

Lots of things people hear about sickle cell are very awful and most times wrong. A lot of people don’t know how to relate with me when they see me after a class like this because of certain perceptions they’ve had. While many people still don’t believe my story if they hear it after they’ve had contact with me.

See life ba

A few weeks ago a certain young man came to intern with us and as I engaged him in conversation; I found out that he thought everyone living with sickle cell look like my executive director. He was shocked to know that everyone that works here, everyone he saw, all live with sickle cell.

Why?

There’s this perception that everyone living with sickle looks unhealthy, malnourished, pitiable, skinny etc. So what have you heard?

Society chooses to see our plight as pain but when you get closer and with an open mind, you will find we are not our pain/condition. We have an ‘abnormality’ but so do you; Ours maybe physical, yours maybe emotional, spiritual etc. What we may not have in strength, we make up for intellectually.

Let me shock you: Over 70% of people living with SCD have health issues due to the emotional turmoil they deal with. When you’re emotionally healthy, with lots of love around you, you will be fine. Relationships can be difficult but when you throw in a complicated condition like this, it makes the whole thing dicey. What I admire is their passion for whatever they do. It’s rare like gem

I have small gist at www.sicklestrength.com to buttress some points.

Thank you for following.

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