Sickle cell: Nigerians should run multiple genotype tests - Expert


Sickle Cell

Sickle Cell

A medical expert, Dr Babatunde Adewumi of the General Hospital, Omu Aran, has advised Nigerians to run multiple genotype tests to avoid wrong genotype combination in their marriage.

Adewumi, who spoke in Ilorin on Friday, said that people should be more committed to tackling the sickle cell scourge.

According to him, a wrong test result is one of the reasons responsible for the increasing rate of sickle cell carriers in the country.

“There are two machines used for the genotype test; the one that is automated and the other one that is manual.

“Most of the wrong results come from the tests done manually. It is called electrophoresis machine, where you read the wavelength and other things.

“Sometimes, due to the error of the machine, or the reader, you might get a wrong result.

“The more automated one is the one that is likely to be error-free, except there is a clerical error from the person documenting it.

“My advice to people when it comes to genotype is to do the test in multiple places, especially for those having results that they are AA.

“Just to be on the safer side, they should conduct the test in two other places to get the exact result, because it is always good to have a tie-breaker,” Adewumi said.

The public health specialist added that prevention, however, remained the best means of eliminating the scourge.

“The bone marrow transplant, which looked as a solution, has never been done in Nigeria; and even in places where they have done it, they have not achieved a 100 per cent cure.

“When doing transplant, there is the possibility of rejection and the person could be on so many drugs after the surgery.

“So why go through this kind of stress when you can avoid the challenge itself?

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“Another thing is to do IVF and test the embryo before implanting it into the womb, but all those things are stressful.

“It costs about 5,000 dollars to get such IVF done, and unfortunately, IVF can fail. So what if the IVF fails?

“The best thing is to avoid it from the onset by being sure of your genotype,” he said.

“Nigeria has the highest burden of sickle cell disease in the world, so we need to put this in mind; let everybody know their genotype.

“In no distant time, we can get this thing eradicated from our environment if people decide to put genotype testing in mind.

“I know of someone, who whenever he wants to start a relationship, the next thing he will say after his name is, ‘I am AS’, so that before any feelings start developing, you will let go.

“When you take decisions, you should know the consequences of your decision, but as an adult, I can’t say don’t do what you like.

“AS can marry AS as long as you will not give birth; you can go for adoption,” Adewumi said.

The medical expert, however, advised sickle cell carriers to keep strong and keep to their routine drugs in the face of the unfriendly environment.

“It is a difficult world for sickle cell carriers to live in because our environment is harsh in terms of infections, weather, poor healthcare services; those things are negative for them.

“So basically, they should keep strong and take a lot of water and their routine drugs.

“They should take drugs to help build their blood and prevent them from having malaria.

“They should also take all necessary precautions as instructed by their doctors,” he said.