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Sickle Cell Disease: Something can still be done

I’ve been hearing about sickle cell anemia since I was young, and it was not until I got to nursing school that I really understood its gravity and impact. Like me, you’d expect that there are certain conditions that are not supposed to be causing so much havoc due to so much advancement and people becoming more well informed and taking corrective decisions towards having a healthy life.

Sickle cell anemia is one of the blood conditions that are being inherited. This condition affects the shape of the red blood cells thus making them difficult to carry and transport oxygen to the needed parts of the body. Normally our red blood cells are shape in the form of a disk-like shape, round and flexible but on the contrary in sickle cell anemia, they are shaped in the form of a sickle or crescent moons that are rigid and sticky making it difficult to move through the blood vessels with ease.

Most people with the condition experience what we call a crisis and are usually in severe pain. This is because when the sickle blood cells cluster together in one spot which could happen anywhere; the brain, heart, lungs, hands, name it, blood finds it hard to pass through the blockage thus the pain and this could be life-threatening at times. Other common experiences are anemia, swelling hands and feet and frequent infections.

According to studies, approximately 20 million people globally are living with anemia and it is mostly people of color (Africans, African Americans, and Hispanics). Africa is the hardest hit, affecting 10% – 40% of her entire population.

WHY?

I know probably asking yourself this. Malaria is still one of the greatest challenges in Africa, so in a bid to survive the environment, our blood genes evolved to be able to cope with it so that we wouldn’t be completely wipe off. So, it’s safe to say; we developed sickle cells as a coping mechanism.

Another thing you’re probably trying to reason in your head is, does it mean we all have sickle cell anemia? The answer is NO. It’s a trait some people have, which makes them carriers but aren’t affected by it whilst other have it full blown.

But… There is a way out. It’s not the uttermost solution but with continuous creation of awareness we can help reduce subsequent upsurge in new cases. You may say but it’s a genetic issue, is there really a way to solve or reduce the rates? YES, there is

Let’s look at the analogy below:

If you’re planning to get married, please pay extra attention. Like they say, we may not have chosen our parents, but we can choose to do better through the quality of the decisions we make. 

Blood genes (Genotypes) available

AA (normal blood cells without sickle cell trait)

AS/AC (has sickle cell trait usually doesn’t get affected by it but can pass on the trait)

SS/SC (has sickle cell anemia full blown and can also pass it on)


Combinations and Implications

AA + AA = No sickle cell anemia, an excellent combination

AA + AS/AC = Sickle cell trait will be transmitted but still a good combination

AA + SS/SC = Sickle cell trait will be transmitted but still a good combination

AS/AC + AS/AC = One or two of the offspring will have sickle cell anemia while the rest just have the trait, a dicey combination

AS/AC + SS/SC = High possibility of numerous children being born with the condition, not advisable combination and is a danger zone

SS/SC + SS/SC = All the children will be born with sickle cell anemia and it is not recommended at all.

It’s not every time we would be focusing on cure, prevention carries more weight and helps one escape living with some certain scars. One of the ways to know your blood type is to do a blood genotype test, remember having good knowledge helps you stay on top of your health game. Let’s build a generation of individuals who are healthy and in charge of their health.

Why not sign up with HCI Healthcare today and get access to our vast network of hospitals and professionals that will hold your hands on this health journey through counseling and other various tests.

If you have sickle cell anemia, it’s not the end and you can help prevent your children from CRISIS.

Written By:
Rebecca Adeleke-Adesanmi, BSc. Nur., MA, Healthcare Mgt.
Health & Wellness Advocate.

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