STOP THE SICKLE CYCLE – THE IMPERATIVE OF GENOTYPE AWARENESS
By Oluwafemi Ajayi, Founder/CEO, Gail Sickle Initiative GSI
As Nigeria tops the list of SCD statistics worldwide, it gives the country a lot of responsibilities in this regard, especially in the area of awareness which is quite a challenge. The widespread ignorance of genotype and its implications has led to the births of a lot of babies with SCD (winning warriors). Some people still go ahead and say ‘I do’ despite knowing the health implications for their offspring: they feel that love will conquer all.
So what should be done in cases where love (amongst other reasons) is chosen over common sense, so to say?
Seek Genetic Counselling – You’re probably wondering who genetic counsellors are? Genetic counsellors are trained to give professional advice to families at risk of genetic disorders such that these families are able to make informed decisions.
Weigh Your Pocket – After you have sought genetic counselling, you will discover that science has proffered some solutions by providing options for couples whose genotypes are not compatible but still decide to be together However, these couples should know the cost implications of the solutions and decide which of the options they can afford.
Take Your Decision And Run With It – Once you have a clarity of the other options aside genotype compatibility, make your choice, run with it and actualise it.
Adoption – Adopting a child is to legally take a child that is not yours and bring him/her up as your own. However, this is Nigeria; the Hub of Africa where we strongly believe in procreation and the tradition of children surviving their parents. The question is, are you bold enough to go the adoption route? Will you be able to cope with the pressure from family, friends et al?
The genotype compatibility route is presumed to be more advisable and less strenuous. As such, Gail Sickle Initiative spear-headed an awareness project in Nigeria, which involved the collaborative efforts of Beulah Sickle Cell Foundation, Damilola Sickle Cell Foundation, Hope At Dawn Foundation and Swint Foundation. This project focused on stopping the sickle cycle by creating awareness on the importance of genotype compatibility in different parts of the country.
We pray that the wisdom of God guide us when we make decisions that will impact on generations after us!