Sickle Cell Disease: Haematologist emphasises premarital blood screening


A Haematologist with National Hospital Abuja, Dr Yashim Andrew, has emphasized  the need for couples to go for blood screening before marriage to reduce Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) cases and other blood diseases.


He made the call in an interview with the press in Abuja.


He said religious leaders should enforce blood screening before marriage as prevention, which he said would enable intending couples to know their genotype, HIV/AIDs status, as well as other blood related diseases.


He defined SCD as a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents.


The most common type is known as Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA) caused by abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells.


SCD is the most common of the hereditary blood disorders among black Americans and Africans, characterised by severe attack known sickle cell crisis.


However, stem cell transplantation is a potential cure and a stem can be found in bone marrow.


Bone marrow is the substance in the centre of bones that produces red blood cells.


A person with sickle cell disease has bone marrow that produces red blood cells with defective hemoglobin S, but when that bone marrow is replaced with healthy ones, a person’s body may start to produce normal hemoglobin.


The haematologist said “that is why we involve medical sciences in marital counselling today and we stand strongly to advocate that the Church and the Mosque should do everything possible to set up marital counselling units to talk to intending couples.


“Couples should also be advised to go for medical screening for HIV/AIDS, other infectious diseases and genotype to establish their blood type, genotype and HIV status.


When we know all these, couples would be given medical advice on whether to go on with marriage or not because of the risk involved.


I,therefore urge couples to heed to medical advises and not to insist on marriage if found to be medically incompatible because they would put their lives and that of their children in danger.”


The doctor advised sickle cell patients to engage in regular medical check-up, take their drugs judiciously, drink water to reduce cases of crisis and other complications that might arise.


He stressed the need for more advocacy on sickle cell disease to reduce its prevalence, as well as counsel
families, relations and friends of persons living with the disease on best ways to manage the ailment.