Written by Daniel Nai
When I gained admission into the university, I had to fill a form which required that I take a medical examination. My thoughts were that; the test was solely for checking STDs, Malaria, and the likes. Samples of my blood and urine were taken to be examined. After collecting my results I was in a hurry to leave the clinic when I was told that the doctor wanted to see me. I was amazed and got tensed!
In a very tensed mood, I walked gently into his consulting room. I thought I had some weird disease I knew nothing about. I sat down and then he asked me if I knew my genotype? I stared at him completely clueless and then he asked again “Do you know anything about sickle cell?” I answered, “Yes” then he smiled and said ”You don’t have the Sickle Condition but you have a trait of the S gene so you are *AS*. I calmed down and smiled. He then educated me on how it could affect my life choices regarding the choosing of a partner and the repercussions it could have on my children.
This situation got me to interrogate further, so I had a conversation with my parents about the matter. My father was aware but mother wasn’t and thought I had brought a strange disease into the family. My dad had to educate her. Apparently, her genotype was AA and my father’s was AS. They had my sister first and I followed. My sister is AA and I am AS. My father found it difficult to understand why I was ‘AS’. He thought together with my mom they had enough A’s in their genotype and that was enough. But it doesn’t work like that.
This took me on a journey to do further research on the matter especially when a doctor friend told me to take folic acid anytime I felt tired. This I know helps replenish the depleted folate stores necessary for erythropoiesis (the process which produces red blood cells). This constantly helped to boost my hemoglobin.
Knowing my genotype broadened my knowledge and understanding of what it meant for me in choosing a life partner. The effects it caused on a friend in the University and the experiences she went through as a child gave me chills. Others people I have encountered even advice that I don’t put my children in such a situation because of the struggles their parents went through.
When my wife and I considered dating, this was the first thing I wanted to know. She didn’t even know her genotype. She thought it wasn’t a big deal but for me, it was! I then explained to her why it was important. Then she recalled that her brother had told her some time ago that she didn’t have a trait. However, I insisted that she check before we take the next step.
I remember waiting anxiously and praying that the results turn out positively. She called and informed me she had gone to the lab for the test and had the results. I sat outside my office after work and waited for her. She arrived smiling with excitement written all over her face repeatedly saying “I told you” …. We both laughed heartily thanking God.
I believe everyone should know and make an informed decision. The Sickle Cell condition can easily be managed if you are well informed about it. Knowing your status doesn’t mean doom!