Sociology & Anthropology graduate and Founder, Voice of Adesua Sickle Cell Foundation, Samantha Adesua Adaka-Esangbedo, is on course to becoming a fulfilled sickle cell advocate and campaigner.
Diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia as a baby, Adesua, like many living with the genetic condition, has been hospitalized repeatedly and undergone many episodes of acute blood shortages necessitating transfusions.
‘I have been transfused more than 15 times – and counting,’ Adesua recalls.
Adesua describes each of her sickle cell crises episodes, no matter how mild or severe, as ‘memorable’ in a painful way and seared into consciousness’.
Growing up, possibly due to the frustration of unrelenting illness, the adolescent did blame her parents for the bloody gift of SCD. Not anymore.
‘These days,’ Adesua says, ‘I have learnt to accept myself and to exude a positive aura about having sickle cell.’
Anambra Sickle Cell Law
Adesua fully supports the Anambra State Nigeria Sickle Cell Law which aims, among other things, to proscribe and criminalise marital unions between individuals with sickle cell trait. When sickle cell carriers unite in marriage to procreate, the chances are 1:4 at each pregnancy that the offspring will have sickle cell anaemia.
Adesua is appalled at the idea of sickle cell carriers knowingly going ahead to marry and have children with other carriers. Fraught with risk, she says.
‘I think it is a totally selfish, inconsiderate, inhuman and wicked thing to do.’
Voice of Adesua
‘No one said it was going to be easy,’ declares the scd advocate who scores the Nigerian government low on its SCD interventions, ‘this is a passion for life, a labour of love.’– Samantha Adesua Adaka-Esangbedo, Voice of Adesua Sickle Cell Foundation
It was this same mindset – to help reduce (if not eliminate) the births of sickle cell children in Nigeria, among other objectives – that drove the University of Benin graduate to establish a Non-Governmental Organization, the Voice of Adesua Sickle Cell Foundation.
On occasion, she has had to counsel ignorant carriers against tying the knot. Some, realizing the enormity of the SCD challenge, do return to thank her for dissuading them from marriage.
One other thing that brings a smile of satisfaction to Adesua is reaching out to fellow ‘Warriors’ with medication as well as moral and financial support.
Other major goals of the Voice of Adesua are to desensitize the non-SCD community on their often negative worldview of SCD and the onerous task of educating rural dwellers about mankind’s most commonly-inherited health condition. A huge challenge, no doubt, but Adesua feels equal to the task.
‘No one said it was going to be easy,’ declares the scd advocate who scores the Nigerian government low on its SCD interventions, ‘this is a passion for life, a labour of love.’