Sickle Cell Warrior Snehal Mahajan, 27, is getting married September 27. She was found with Sickle Cell Anaemia at the age of 2. Her parents were carriers of the sickle cell gene, but like most around the world, did not even know.
‘My younger brother was found to be negative for sickle cell,’ recalls Snehal.
Treatment for her episodic crises began with at a private hospital under Dr. Somani’s care. When she grew older, she attended Government Medical College Nagpur India and was treated under the supervision of Dr. Dipti Jain Mam.
Frequent blood transfusion and severe pain were led to hospitalization on occasions too many to count. Dr. Manoj Bhatnagar started Snehal on Hydroxyurea at a time when it was just emerging as a potent medicine for SCD. With hydroxyurea, the need for blood transfusion was arrested.
‘I have not had blood transfusion for the past 15 years,’ she says, grateful for a remedy which also drastically reduced her hospital admissions.
But, even so, sickle cell was not done with her. In 2010, Snehal lapsed into a severe crisis attack which left her in coma for three days – for her relations, it felt more like months.
She recovered. The whole mess and vulnerability to indisposition continued unabated. She was serially afflicted with severe typhoid, malaria and jaundice in the next three years.
Unable to breathe on her own in 2016, she was diagnosed with asthma. Nevertheless, through the thick and thin of illness and hospitalization, the sickle cell warrior forged ahead with her studies. She is now an MBA and working towards her final exams in banking.
Since February 2020, Snehal has been a neophyte yogi. She took to yoga with the encouragement of Priti Shende, a committed sickle cell activist, warrior parent and a Technologist and Microbiologist at the Government Medical College, Nagpur.
‘Yoga helps me to feel fit and healthy,’ comments Snehal, ‘it improves my oxygen intake and lung capacity.’
Maybe – maybe yoga helped in her ongoing recovery from asymptomatic coronavirus. Earlier in September, she was in quarantine after testing positive for a virus that has affected millions of her country men and women, necessitating politically-inadvisable, but medically-sound lockdowns.
After a lifelong – and ongoing – struggle with SCD, it was either AA or nothing for Snehal. On September 21, 2020, she is getting married to her own man. It wasn’t just his genotype (AA) that clinched it for her; it was his other noble qualities besides.
Snehal looks forward to a world where the incidence of SCD is much reduced. Its start with awareness of one’s status – and making informed choices.
Sickle Cell Society of India
Snehal remains thankful to the Sickle Cell Society of India and the late Padmshri Sampat Ramteke Sir, who supported her all the way through to the realization of her dreams.
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