An expert in sickle cell disorder, Dr Olu Akinyanju, has urged individuals who aspire to get married to do so regardless of their genotype as there are advanced technologies to assist them in case they give birth to children with sickle cell anaemia.
Akinyanju, founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria said this on Saturday during the commemoration of the 2021 world sickle cell Day at Idi Araba.
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According to him, “People should marry whoever they want to marry, it’s their choice. If AS or AC want to marry AA or SS, it is their choice. Marry who you want to.
“I once had a patient who was SS and she got married to AS and they have two kids who are doing great. I have heard of an instance where a lady who was SS got married to a man who was also SS. There are times SS will be searching for AA but what if it doesn’t work out between the two of them?”
In her contribution, Dr Annette Akinsete disclosed there are various options for couples regardless of the genotype of their partner.
Explaining further, she said there is pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, an IVF treatment used in selecting an embryo’s genotype before it is being inserted into the woman.
This procedure she insisted would make it easy for a woman who hitherto had a chance of giving birth to a child with SS, to end up giving birth to a child with AA, AS or AC genotype.
Another option according to the expert is prenatal diagnosis.
This diagnosis, she said, is a diagnosis before birth which is used to help find genetic disorders, including genotype, before the birth of the baby.
This can be done after the woman has already been pregnant, she hinted.
Dr Akinsete disclosed that the latest option for curing sickle cell disorder is the bone marrow transplant.
The machine for the procedure she hinted, has been installed in the premises of the Lagos University teaching hospital (LUTH).
The bone marrow transplant centre located in LUTH is a partnership between the hospital and the foundation to cure sickle cell disorder in Nigeria.
The transplant which she hinted would be expensive, will be subsidized for indigent patients as there are plans to liaise with state governments to sponsor indigent sickle cell patients.
“The bone marrow transplant center is ready but the experts who will work there are still undergoing training at the Vanderbilt Medical Centre in the United States. Once they return, the centre will reduce medical tourism as well as attract people from other parts of the world to assess the facility,” said Prof Akinyanju.
Dr Annette emphasized genetic counselling for individuals who were about to get married or are already married every day of the week at the facility in Idi Araba.
While urging everyone in Nigeria to know their genotype, Dr Annette insisted that people living with sickle cell disorder need good treatment to live a long, normal and productive life.