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QUESTION

Each time I tell prospective suitors my genotype (SS), they flee. I have lost four serious ones I this way. I have decided henceforth to keep my genotype to myself and lie about it if the issue ever comes up. Am I wrong to adopt this strategy? I am 37 and desperate to be married.

ANSWER BY MRS. AYO OTAIGBE

Ayo Otaigbe: Truth is your responsibility to the future

As a woman living with sickle cell anaemia, you need to exercise caution – as indeed any woman should.

I personally know of a case here in Nigeria similar to yours. Prior to marriage, the woman, a nurse, informed her suitor of her genotype (AS) ad asked of his own. For reasons best known to him, he lied he was AA, whereas he was AS. It was not until after the woman had given birth to two children with SS that she realized that he had been untruthful about his genotype. Two children after that resulted again in children with sickle cell anaemia.

To cut a long story short, the woman, embittered by the husband’s behaviour and unable to cope, packed out of her matrimonial home, abandoning 4 children with SS for one man to handle.

If he had told the truth, it is not impossible she might still have agreed to marry, ad they would have weighed their options about childbearing. More important, she would have had no right to blame him for whatever ensued.

I advise you to tell your man your genotype whether he asked or not and make sure you know his genotype before your relationship gets serious. Truth is your obligation to yourself, to your man, and to the unborn child.

Mrs Otaigbe is a pioneer of genetic counselling in Nigeria and former Principal Manager (Nursing) with the Nigerian Ports Authority Plc.

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