Sickle Cell: How Genotype Disclosure Breaks Courtships, Marriages

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As the world marks World Sickle Cell Day, some residents of the Federal capital Territory (FCT), say non disclosure of genotype status is threatening courtship among young people.

June 19 is designated by the United Nations to draw attention and create necessary awareness to problems posed by sickle cell disorder, inherited from the genotypic makeup of both parents.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) investigation reveals that some respondents, who termed the act as ‘genotype dishonesty’, said that it has become difficult for people to reveal their true genotype because of the fear of rejection.

Some respondents, who are currently looking for potential life partners, decried the act, adding that it has made the search for a life partner more difficult.

Ms Becky Chukwudalu, a businesswoman told NAN that she found out her ex-fiancé was an AS a few months after their engagement which was heartbreaking.

“I am AS and he is AS, we were not medically compatible and the relationship had to be discontinued.

“When we met, I wanted to prevent this so I asked him what his genotype was after I told him mine. He said he was AA.

“I only found out after our engagement that he lied so we could not continue with the relationship. Leaving was the hardest thing but I don’t want to punish my unborn children,” Chukwudalu said.

Also, Mr Jerry Okhemokhale, a graphics designer said that he had been a victim of genotype dishonesty a few times and sometimes, he does not blame people who lie about their genotype.

“I have been lied to by two of the women I went out with in the past, although they opened up later on the relationship.

“We did not break up because of genotype, I was ready to explore other medical options and I understood why they lied. It’s hard to date when you are an AS.

“I know the struggle. Sometimes you settle for medical compatibility instead of love, unlike the people with AA genotype,” he said.

Okhemokhale added that the dishonesty was getting out of hand and that it’s no wonder sickle cell has remained a major challenge.

Some other respondents told NAN that although the dishonesty was hurtful and harmful, but it’s sometimes the only way other genotypes can find partners.

Mr Israel Omasan, a public relations practitioner said “the dating scene has been so unfair to people with genotypes rather than the AA, especially for serious marriage-leading relationships.

“People want to keep their relationships. You don’t know the struggle involved in the cat chase of making sure you find someone mentally and emotionally compatible who isn’t sickle cell prone.

“Now tell me why people won’t lie and falsify genotype results?. Even some AA look for fellow AA genotype to marry.
“Genotype issue isn’t a joke at all in a serious relationship, “he added.

Also, some respondents added that some people with AS and AC genotypes go on to have relationships after sweet talking each other into damning medical consequences.

Miss Amy Udo, a stylist said, “I know people with AS and AC genotypes who have married each other after deceiving themselves that love will conquer all the pains.

“These people have no money but sooth themselves by saying they will explore medical options or stand by each or her when sickle cell comes.

“Learning to unloved someone is hard, but living with a sick child is harder. People should be more honest about this genotype issue to reduce the risk factor,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Gbenga Ajifa, a fertility doctor told NAN that the dishonesty was in no way beneficial to parties who engaged in it.

He said, “for an AS and AS couple, there is a 25 per cent chance that one in four children will have sickle cell.

“People feel that they can bypass the chance margin, but forget that it is not a rule of thumb. All the children or none even can have sickle cell.

“But there is Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which screens an embryo for genetic defects prior to implantation.

“Couples can check the genotype of their children before birth and abort it if the child is a potential sicklier.

“It is a 98 per cent chance, but really emotionally draining for an average family, and not quite cost effective.

“The best solution still remains to break up and keep searching for a compatible partner,” he advised.

According to medical reports, genotype is one of three factors that determine phenotype, along with inherited epigenetic factors and non-inherited environmental factors.

There are four genotypes including AA, AS, SS and the less common AC. Since all except AA are sickle cell carriers (recessive and dominant), it is medically advised for them to desist from intermarrying.

NAN

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