Sometime last month, a very sick looking 8 year old boy came to the lab to have his sample taken and some tests run. He caught my attention because I expected him to wail and fight the technician like other children. But he was quiet and showed no signs of fear or pain. Everyone kept saying ‘strong boy’ ‘good boy’ ‘you’re a man’ ‘men don’t cry’ and he could only manage a weak laugh.
I saw him everyday I went to work that week and assumed he was admitted. He is really popular with the nurses. Then towards the weekend, I stopped seeing him so I thought he had been discharged.
The next week he came again and this time with his younger sister of about 5years and a man old enough to be their grandfather. I would later find out he is their father. They had pale eyes, dry lips and looked tired.
This time, I volunteered to take their samples because I was sure the boy wouldn’t cry. And they both didn’t.
I wrote down their lab bill and pointed their dad in the direction of the cashier but the old man asked me how much I wrote down and when I said #3000, he vehemently refused to take the form from me and insisted I reduced it to #1000. I was taken aback by his behaviour because these things have fixed prices so if he is supposed to know that they dont negotiate. I was angry and had a lot to say to him but my ethics lecturer did a great job. So I managed to keep my cool as I acted out all the scenerios in my head. Finally, the technician stepped in and asked me to change it to #1000. Nicely. And whispered that she’ll explain later. When he left, she told me that the man isn’t used to paying because he is my dad’s friend and him even agreeing to pay #1000 out of the #3000 the tests cost was major progress as they frequented the clinic because both children had sickle cell anaemia.
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I went 50 shades of mad. So he wants another man to pay for his sins? I get really mad when I see children suffering just because two grown people wanted to be together.
Sadly some in Communities in the past, Parents traded blames and believed that their bitter relatives were the cause of their children’s death. In some cases, the woman bore the larger chunk of the blame as the man could take a second wife who would give him children and further prove that the first wife is the sole cause of bearing abiku or ogbanje–children who have not come to stay. Without knowing the true cause of their children’s death.
Thankfully, In the world today, things have changed. People are more aware of the role the parent’s genotype plays in the health of their children and even churches require a genotype result before wedding a couple. There are 3 choices the couple can choose from- Remain childless. Under take amniocentesis to know the child(ren) with the gene and have the pregnancy terminated. Which is very depressing because having an abortion isn’t a nice feeling or easy thing to do and largely because no one knows how many children will have the gene. The third and in my opinion safest way is adoption but sadly, not many
nigerians people subscribe to this.
Instead, most of the people who go into marriage have the intention of “trying their luck” and it is all fun and games untill the fourth child is buried because of sickle cell anaemia which could have been avoided but wasn’t because of either ignorance or outright selfishness.
The annoying part is they shed
crocodile tears when these kids die and they knew it would happen from the beginning!
Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic condition whereby someone has an abnormal hemoglobin S which can distort the red blood cells causing them to break down prematurely and leading to anaemia (shortage of blood). Clinically, this is punctuated by crises, mostly painful. The ‘crises’ affect a variety of organs including bones, spleen and lungs.
According to Mendel’s principle of inheritance, there is a 25% chance that every child born by two AS parents would be born with the sickle cell disease. It is super scary because, it works with probability which means there’s a chance that all children may be born with sickle cell anaemia regardless of how many they are!
I have seen people fall madly inlove with each other and have to go their separate ways because of their genotype. Is it the fault in their stars or science is being cruel to them?
Personally, I feel the world is bad enough with too much pain and birthing a child who’ll come into the world to suffer crisis and not live a relatively healthy life isn’t worth it.
I know a woman who has lost 2 sets of twins to sickle cell anaemia. Did she know about genotype? Yes! She is a health worker but she went ahead.
I have also heard of parents who were both carriers (AS) but were lucky enough to have 3 kids and none had the sickle cell disease.
In conclusion, I hate to be a buzz kill so by all means, fall in love! Get married! Make babies! Adopt some! Or get a pet! After all, you only live once.
However, let your happiness not be the cause of an innocent child’s suffering. Love is kind.
Let’s converse in the COMMENT SECTION:
- Do you think the risk is worth taking?
- Why do you think people go ahead after all the cons have been pointed out?
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