My name is Boluwatife. I have heard and read more than a few things about Sickle cell disease in the past, this is not just because my haemoglobin genotype is AS which means I carry heterogeneous sickle cell trait but also because I developed interest in medical science at a very naive age. Perhaps I should emphasize again that I rarely fall sick, in fact, I can’t possibly remember the last time I had malaria even though the female anopheles mosquitoes are within easy reach in my domicile.
The doctors say all sort; they say if I marry fellow AS, I carry the risk of ¼ or 25% of giving birth to a SS child for each of my pregnancy. They say if I marry SS, the risk is double, the mathematics was really complex for me!
But How Did I End Up In A Situation I Had Learnt How To Prevent Ab-initio?
Prior to my meeting with a doctor yesterday, it never did occur to me that I would ever be another victim of an ‘unfair’ stratification of haemoglobin gene types—a world where the haemoglobin S types (whether heterogeneous or homogenous) can not choose to love, within the realm of their own choice or interest.
I know about true love and I know about sickle cell crises. I learnt earlier that the former may thrive and bear witness for strength, support and care for the latter but would never break the traumatizing yolk that the latter brings into the nuptial home. This was the reason why two years ago, my fiancé and I summoned courage and went for genotype test, we thought we would handle the worst outcome with maturity. The result came out, he was AA and I, AS, eureka! We were good to go. We didn’t have any cause to worry because AA marrying AS carries no risk of bearing an SS child!
Following the advice of our marriage counsellor, we had to re-run our blood groups and genotypes yesterday, we also ran HIV test and few other tests and of course I ran pregnancy test again, hmm. My blood genotype remained unchanged, I had always been AS, but the strange thing was after running my fiancé’s genotype three different times, it was AS! We reported to the doctor immediately to know where the error was coming from. We thought it must have been some kind of laboratory errors, most likely from his old genotype result.
My Fiancé and I Became stuck On A Crossroad
After the doctor had asked us few questions and explained somethings to us, together, we accepted the new result and my fiancé and I were at the crossroad of making a powerful decision that could make or mar our home forever. I couldn’t garner the strength to look into his confused and downcast eyes. The doctor asked if we would still wish to go ahead with our wedding plans although he wouldn’t advise such. My fiancé refused to a say a word but I didn’t know when I smiled and said yes. I felt strongly in my heart that God can not be this wicked. We invested so much into our two years of courtship, love apart, we are just compatible in a lot of ways. Go our separate ways? Where do I start from?
I Was Relieved When The Doctor Said, ‘You May Play God’ But How?
I told the doctor that with prayers we will beat the odds. If we have 25% probability of having a sickle cell child for each pregnancy, where is the 75% chance of not having it? The doctor said it is always a game of probability that they doctors don’t always recommend. I couldn’t tell what my fiancé was thinking when he asked the doctor if there was any recently researched drug one can take to further reduce the probability. His question sounded silly but it wasn’t at all. The doctor smiled and said, no. He told us except we would like to play God. At that moment we became excited about this next option he called, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).
Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis
He said we can use it to detect any genetic disorder before conception and prevent conceiving such. He explained it is not only used to screen out sickle cell disease, many life threatening genetic diseases have been prevented by using PGD. In PGD, they would need to collect DNA samples of our close relatives to design their probe. Then they would collect samples of my eggs after giving me drugs that would stimulate the release of my eggs, then fertilise few of these eggs with about three drops of semen sample collected from my fiancé through Invitro fertilization (IVF). The fertilised eggs are tested with the developed probe, the best one is the one that would not carry sickle cell trait, and that would be placed into my womb through my cervix.
We agreed to go for one of the centres that do PGD in Nigeria once we are ready for children. My fiancé and I can’t express how relieved we have been since learning about PGD. We appreciate medical science and thank God for giving us the chance to play his role. Thanks for reading my post.
Featured image credit: kamdora.com
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