Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells from whence it got its name.
It is a deviation from the normal round-shaped red blood cells that transports oxygen to all parts of the body.
This defect in the shape of the red blood cell causes the cell to die early making the sufferer experience a constant shortage of red blood cells.
Since it’s an inherited condition, the carriers of the Sickle gene (AS, SS, SC) are strongly advised to avoid getting married to other carriers to prevent passing the condition to their unborn.
The awareness of this condition has in recent times been on the hike; with the advocacy for caution making intending couples undergo a series of blood tests to be sure they would not deliberately impact the health of their unborn children negatively.
While this condition has broken a lot of budding relationships, there may be a way around it as certain options while unpopular and expensive, will enable AS couples to get married and live happily.
And that’s the essence of this article, to look at ways already married couples who are both carriers can avoid having sickle cell children.
Below are the options available:
- Natural Conception
This option allows couples to naturally conceive and carry the pregnancy for 10 weeks, after which a Chorionic Villous Sampling investigation will be carried out to determine the genotype of the embryo.
Another such test is Amniocentesis which is done from the 13th week of Conception.
This procedure involves inserting a needle into the pregnant uterus to retrieve the cells of the embryo. These cells are then cultured and genetically tested to ascertain the genotype. If it is shown to have the SS genotype the pregnancy is terminated and if it doesn’t have the SS genotype it’s left to term.
This is a very expensive procedure that would gulp about N250,000, in addition to medical abortion which costs around N20,000 with surgical abortion costing about N50,000.
It should however be noted that there is a 0.5 to 1% chance of miscarriage.
The anxiety of waiting to find out the genotype of the embryo can also be detrimental to the mental health of the couple, not to mention the emotional trauma of undergoing an abortion.
- In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Assisted fertilization is becoming widely accepted and Nigeria has not been left behind, an indication that the IVF process is more common than it was some years ago.
It is an option of choice for people who have made multiple attempts to conceive naturally, or unsuccessfully.
This process involves fertilizing a sperm or egg from a donor who is not a carrier of Sickle cell disease, which is then transplanted into the mother.
IVF procedure costs about 2m naira and has a very high success rate.
- Pre-implantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
This is very similar to In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The egg and sperm of the couple are fertilized in a petri dish and allowed to grow for about 4 days after which a biopsy of the cells is carried out. Only non-SS cells are then implanted into the mother.
It should be noted that facilities that carry out this procedure are not widespread in Nigeria which would lead to it being very expensive as the procedure would cost about 2 million per round. The success rate of this procedure is 99.99%.
Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, in a report, averred that there are about a 17.5million orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria (OVC), with the opportunity for carriers of Sickle cell to adopt them in case they decide not to have their biological child.
The only issue with this method may be the attendant stigma to adoption.
- A Childless marriage
In the traditional context, a marriage’s success lies in the number of children it produces, leading to pressure from the mothers of parents, aunties, and uncles among others to produce an heir that will continue the family lineage.
However, we have seen lovers who bared all odds, deciding to stick with one another and not make children.
Some may be due to a health condition or it may be that they do not fancy having kids.
AS couples may decide to reduce the prevalence of Sickle cell by not having children of their own.
Bifotad footnote: This article is meant to guide carriers who have either been married or those who want to go the hard route of getting hitched despite being carriers.
We understand that various moral, religious, and even cultural beliefs may frown at these methods but they are very valid options. It is left to the intending partners to make their choices. But if despite knowing they are both AS and they still want to get married and bare all odds, it is only proper they are availed of the available options to enable them to make an informed decision. By doing so, they are saving the world from the agony of the sickle cell cycle.
2 thoughts on “Five Ways AS Genotype Couples Can Avoid Having Sickle Cell (SS) Children”
This will really open people’s eyes to reality.
If you want to by all means marry someone that is AS make sure you have enough money for these procedures
[…] But what is obtainable is that Paul has opened the lid on his new relationship. […]