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Educate yourself

Good Evening again,

Second post of the night! So, if you’ve noticed I try to ensure that the blog depicts positivity and joy but today, I have to bring something rather disturbing and sad to your attention. You may remember me saying I embarked on a series of medical tests including my genotype and so on! Here is my follow up on that. I’ve previously mentioned that my mother was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia as a child and is of SC genotype! How many of you were shocked to see SC and not SS? Mother had always told me I was AC but had nothing in writing to show me and as it was a very long time ago, I decided to recheck! In England, things like genotype tests aren’t common unless something urgent occurs or you’re having a baby! So, when I went to Lagos in August, I decided to have it done there! The results said I am AS! When I informed my mother, she was shocked and swore I was AC and my sister was AS! I even told the doctor this and he reassured me it was AS! This is a private doctor from a very reputable hospital who charges a lot and does home visits for my family! So, I found it hard to believe that they were wrong. My mother however insisted that I took another test when I returned to England!

I was able to convince the doctor’s that I really needed to identify my genotype and they finally agreed to do the test and the results came back, the doctor invited me in to talk me through it and the results were AC! Yes AC and not AS! AC! I have it in writing! I couldn’t mask my shock and disappointment at the wrong information given to me in Nigeria. I informed my mother of the results and she said yes she was positive and then confided in me about a scenario that occurred earlier on in Lagos! A little boy whose mother lived with us previously was ill and my mum took his health as her responsibility. At the hospital, the doctors said he was SS and my mother immediately had her suspicions because the boy is 12 years old and had never reported Sickle Cell crisis-like symptoms and being a Sickle Cell sufferer herself, my mother was adamant that he didn’t have that genotype so she took him to another hospital to retrieve his genotype. Guess what? They said he was AS! Much more believable and just to be double sure, mother insisted on getting a third opinion so they sought a third hospital! To her shock, they said he was AA! I couldn’t believe this! Which one were we to believe? Do we have to do twenty tests and then the genotype with the highest frequency wins?

I was explaining the episode to a friend of mine when she said another friend had been through a similar experience; luckily that friend was British as well and so in England, she was able to get her actual genotype! My fear here is what about people who can’t afford to go overseas? How many people in Nigeria have been given the wrong genotype? How many of those have made marriage selection choices based on this wrong genotype? My mind went wild, I just couldn’t believe this! What made me even more worried is the situation with women who are O-! Do you know the situation or not? Let me summarise incase you don’t.

If as a woman, your blood group is O- and you marry a man who is O+, your baby could either be O- or O+. If the baby happens to be O+. The negative blood type is not compatible with the baby’s positive blood type. If your baby’s blood type is positive and it mixes in with your blood, your body responds to this as if it were a foreign body and your body will make anti-bodies that could potentially attack the fetes  much like it would a virus causing the pregnancy to miscarry! In this situation, at 28 weeks of pregnancy, the mother is given a shot of Rhogam (sp) and again shortly after delivery (because the blood could have mixed during the delivery); this prevents the production of those antibodies and ensures the baby is not attacked and prevents miscarriage! So, if you know and carry out the procedures at the right time, you need not worry about this but if you don’t know that’s when you may have an issue and I believe that not knowing and not taking the shot is actually a major cause of a lot of miscarriages. Why am I worried? If Nigerian doctors are getting the wrong genotype, do they also make mistakes with blood groups? Can an O- lady be told that she’s O+ and marries an O+ man, has an O+ foetus and her body attacks the child and she miscarries all because they didn’t detect the right blood group? I know people who have had several miscarriages, could this be a reason? I’m not trying to scare anyone but just bringing something so serious to your knowledge. Please read more about this here- www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/rhfactor.html

I am aware that this little paragraph may not give an accurate or full picture.

As if things couldn’t get worse, I read the story of a diabetic woman who was administered the wrong medication at the detriment to her health. You can read it here- www.bellanaija.com/2012/10/22/quiz-your-doctor-till-youre-satisfied-the-editor-of-redsheet-magazine-chris-ayo-joseph-shares-the-story-of-wrongly-prescribed-drugs

There are many other sad stories like this and I think that it is imperative that we educate ourselves and try as much as possible not to cut corners on our health! Health is wealth and if you can go overseas even just once in your life, I suggest you check important things such as your genotype, blood group, HIV status and so many other things and have the results in writing!

Lastly, while describing my ordeal to people, only one person knew of the genotypes CC, AC and SC. Everyone was else was shocked! I will admit, if mother didn’t have Sickle Cell and wasn’t of SC genotype, I probably would be in the same shoes but thank God I’m not! In the old days, the only genotypes detected were AA, SS and AS but with time and more sophisticated medical equipment, the other genotypes and Sickle Haemoglobin were discovered! But in some countries, medical practitioners are still unaware of this hence the widespread ignorance! I actually spoke to a sixth year medical student in Nigeria about something and he asked for my genotype and when I said AC, his response was “which one is AC” I couldn’t believe it; absolutely appalling! To read more about Sickle Cell and genotype testing, please visit www.sicklecellsociety.org/websites/123reg/LinuxPackage22/si/ck/le/sicklecellsociety.org/public_html/disorders/view/1

I would like to adjure everyone to make it their duty to educate yourself, family and friends about important things such as your health and wellbeing. Always ask your doctor questions about prescriptions, read them and be very proactive in managing your health! Know your blood group, genotype and HIV status! Go for medical check ups at least twice a year! Especially when getting married or planning a family, you ought to be very cognisant of these things and educate yourself! I certainly do not know enough about Sickle Cell Anaemia, the negative and positive blood group scenario and I will make it a point of duty to educate myself on these things.

I am not a medical doctor and I must apologise for probably not using the right terms and not explaining things in detail, but I will encourage you to spend sometime to do your research as well! We spend hours reading novels, magazines, blogs, researching prospective cars, company interviews, real estate investments and so on, let’s apply the same amount of effort into managing our health. Amen! Ladies and gentlemen, God bless you all.



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