This is Love!

Okkk, before you criticise me or say 'What's Bukola up to now?', I'd love it if you could take your time to read this. If you cannot read it in a cafe (because of the cost it will incur) or during working hours so as not to look too unprofessional while at work, please copy it in a flash and read it at your leisure (at home, in the night, maybe?).

This is about the longest article I've ever uploaded. Well, I couldn't edit it because I found all the information in it valuable...and it was sent to my mail on Saturday, so I am not the original author. But the article struck a cord in me, and I'm sure it will in you too.

I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, but I believe there are people out there who NEEDs to KNOW; people that your comments will go a long way in helping them to make decisions the dread making….


I need your comments or views after you must have read it...please. Thanks. Please read on.


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I LOVED A GIRL

Great awe filled the hall as Idrisu (this is not his real name) declared how unwavering his faith was in God. His words were mixed with undoubting love emanating from his eyes. Idrisu said in clear terms: ‘’ I and my fiancée are both carriers of sickle cell anaemia. Though as a medical doctor, I know the implications but I choose to ignore it. Rather our faith is in God. Our eventual union will be one filled with marital bliss’’. This statement made everyone to reach their wits’ end. ‘… I know the implications…’ What are the implications of two individuals loving one another? We will consider one of the implications Idrisu chose to ignore with a very simple equation.


AS + AS => AA + AS + AS + SS ….. (1)

A – Normal gene, S – Sickle cell gene.

AS – Sickle cell carrier; AA – Normal genes; SS – Sickle cell genes


Ok! Now I get the fact! There is a 25 % likelihood that the intending couple will give birth to a child with abnormal haemoglobin for every pregnancy.


Let’s attempt to explain the Sickle cell disease better. This article is aimed at making us more aware of the disease and to eliminate the wrong insinuations about it. (The following areas to be shared should serve as a positive tool and not as a means of hurting people). God is able to heal any disease. He can do all things. Let your eyes of understanding be enlightened as we proceed to answer series of questions regarding this disease. Amen.


A. What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle cell anaemia is a serious disease in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. “Sickle-shaped” means that the red blood cells are shaped like a "C."

Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the centre. They move easily through your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain the protein haemoglobin. This iron-rich protein gives blood its red colour and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.


Sickle cells contain abnormal haemoglobin that causes the cells to have a sickle shape. Sickle-shaped cells don’t move easily through your blood vessels. They’re stiff and sticky and tend to form clumps and get stuck in the blood vessels. (Other cells also may play a role in this clumping process.)


The clumps of sickle cells block blood flow in the blood vessels that lead to the limbs and organs. Blocked blood vessels can cause pain, serious infections, and organ damage.


B. What are the Other Names for Sickle Cell Anaemia?

* Haemoglobin SS disease

* Haemoglobin S disease

* HbS disease

* Sickle cell disorders

* Sickling disorder due to haemoglobin S

* Sickle cell disease


Types of Sickle Cell Disease

There are several types of sickle cell disease. The most common are: Sickle Cell Anaemia (SS), Sickle-Haemoglobin C Disease (SC), Sickle Beta-Plus Thalassemia and Sickle Beta-Zero Thalassemia.


C. Who is at Risk for Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Sickle cell anaemia affects millions of people worldwide. It's most common in people whose families come from Africa, South or Central America (especially Panama), Caribbean islands, Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy), India, and Saudi Arabia.


D. What Causes Sickle cell Anaemia?

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited, lifelong disease. People who have the disease are born with it. They inherit two copies of the sickle cell gene—one from each parent.


People who inherit a sickle cell gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have a condition called sickle cell trait. Sickle cell trait is different from sickle cell anaemia. People who have sickle cell trait don’t have the disease, but they have one of the genes that cause it. Like people who have sickle cell anaemia, people who have sickle cell trait can pass the gene to their children.


E. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sickle Cell Anaemia?

The signs and symptoms of sickle cell anaemia vary. Some people have mild symptoms. Others have very severe symptoms and often are hospitalised for treatment.


Sickle cell anaemia is present at birth, but many infants don't show any signs until after 4 months of age.


The most common signs and symptoms are linked to anaemia and pain. Other signs and symptoms are linked to the disease's complications.


Signs and Symptoms Related to Anaemia

The most common symptom of anaemia is fatigue (feeling tired or weak). Other signs and symptoms of anaemia include:

* Shortness of breath

* Dizziness

* Headache

* Coldness in the hands and feet

* Pale skin

* Chest pain


Signs and Symptoms Related to Pain

Sudden pain throughout the body is a common symptom of sickle cell anaemia. This pain is called a "sickle cell crisis." Sickle cell crises often affect the bones, lungs, abdomen, and joints.


A sickle cell crisis occurs when sickled red blood cells form clumps in the bloodstream. (Other cells also may play a role in this clumping process.) These clumps of cells block blood flow through the small blood vessels in the limbs and organs. This can cause pain and organ damage.


Many factors can play a role in a sickle cell crisis. Often, more than one factor is involved and the exact cause is not known. You can control some factors. For example, your risk for a sickle cell crisis increases if you're dehydrated (your body doesn't have enough fluid). Drinking plenty of fluids can lower your risk for a painful crisis. Other factors, such as an infection, you can't control.


Painful crises are the leading cause of emergency room visits and hospitalisations of people who have sickle cell anaemia.


F. What are the Complications of Sickle Cell Anaemia?

The effects of sickle cell crises on different parts of the body can cause a number of complications.


Hand-Foot Syndrome

Sickle cells can block the small blood vessels in the hands or feet. This condition is called hand-foot syndrome. It can lead to pain, swelling, and fever. One or both hands and/or feet may be affected at the same time.


You may feel the pain in the many bones of the hands and feet. Swelling often occurs on the back of the hands and feet and moves into the fingers and toes. Hand-foot syndrome may be the first sign of sickle cell anaemia in infants.


Splenic Crisis

The spleen is an organ in the abdomen. Normally, it filters out abnormal red blood cells and helps fight infection. In some cases, the spleen may trap cells that should be in the bloodstream. This causes the spleen to grow large and leads to anaemia.


If the spleen gets too clogged with sickle cells, it won't work right. This can cause the spleen to shrink. If this happens, you may need blood transfusions until your body can make more cells and recover.


Infections

Both children and adults who have sickle cell anaemia have a hard time fighting infections. This is because sickle cell anaemia can damage the spleen, an organ that helps fight infections.


Infants and young children who have damaged spleens are more likely to get infections that can kill them within hours or days. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death in young children who have sickle cell anaemia.


Meningitis, influenza, and hepatitis are other infections that are common in people who have sickle cell anaemia.


Acute Chest Syndrome

Acute chest syndrome is a life-threatening condition linked to sickle cell anaemia. It's similar to pneumonia. The condition is caused by an infection or sickle cells trapped in the lungs.


People who have this condition usually have chest pain and fever. They also often have abnormal chest x-ray results. Over time, lung damage from acute chest syndrome may lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).


Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Damage to the small blood vessels in the lungs makes it hard for the heart to pump blood through the lungs. This causes blood pressure in the lungs to rise.

Increased blood pressure in the lungs is called pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH. Shortness of breath and problems with breathing are the main symptoms of PAH.


Delayed Growth and Puberty in Children

Children who have sickle cell anaemia often grow more slowly than other children. They also reach puberty later. A shortage of red blood cells causes the slow growth rate. Adults who have sickle cell anaemia often are slender or smaller in size than other adults.


Stroke

Two forms of stroke can occur in people who have sickle cell anaemia. One form occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked. The other form occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.


A stroke can cause learning disabilities and/or lasting brain damage, long-term disability, paralysis (an inability to move), or death.


Eye Problems

Sickle cells also can clog the small blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood to your eyes. This can damage the retinas-thin layers of tissue at the back of your eyes. The retinas take the images you see and send them to your brain.

Without enough blood, the retinas will weaken. This can cause serious problems, including blindness.


Priapism

Males who have sickle cell anaemia may have painful and unwanted erections. This condition is called priapism. It happens because the sickle cells block blood flow out of an erect penis. Over time, priapism can damage the penis and lead to impotence.


Gallstones

When red blood cells die, they release their haemoglobin. The body breaks down this protein into a compound called bilirubin. Too much bilirubin in the body can cause stones to form in the gallbladder.


Gallstones may cause steady pain that lasts for 30 minutes or more in the upper right side of the belly, under the right shoulder, or between the shoulder blades. The pain may happen after eating fatty meals.


People who have gallstones may have nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), vomiting, fever, sweating, chills, clay-coloured stools, or jaundice (a yellowish colour of the skin or whites of the eyes).


Ulcers on the Legs

Sickle cell ulcers (sores) usually begin as small, raised, crusted sores on the lower third of the leg. Leg sores occur more often in males than in females. These sores usually appear between the ages of 10 and 50.

The cause of sickle cell ulcers isn't clear. The number of ulcers can vary from one to many. Some heal quickly, but others persist for years or come back after healing.


Multiple Organ Failure

Multiple organ failure is rare, but serious. It happens if you have a sickle cell crisis that causes two out of three major organs (lungs, liver, or kidney) to fail.

Symptoms of this complication are a fever and changes in mental status, such as sudden tiredness and loss of interest in your surroundings


G. What can be done to help prevent these complications?

Sickle cell patient should be under the care of a medical team that understands sickle cell disease. All newborn babies detected with sickle cell disease should be placed on daily penicillin to prevent serious infections. All of the childhood immunisations should be given plus the pneumococcal vaccine. Parents should know how to check for a fever because this signals the need for a quick medical checkup for serious infection. The following are general guidelines to keep the sickle cell patient healthy:


* Taking the vitamin folic acid (folate) daily to help make new red cells

* Daily penicillin until age six to prevent serious infection

* Drinking plenty of water daily (8-10 glasses for adults)

* Avoiding too hot or too cold temperatures

* Avoiding over exertion and stress

* Getting plenty of rest

* Getting regular check-ups from knowledgeable health care providers


H. What are the New Treatments for Sickle Cell Anaemia?

Research on bone marrow transplants, gene therapy, and new medicines for sickle cell anaemia is ongoing. The hope is that these studies will provide better treatments for sickle cell anaemia. Researchers also are looking for a way to predict the severity of the disease.


Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant can work well for treating sickle cell anaemia. This treatment may even offer a cure in a small number of cases.


However, the procedure is risky and can lead to serious side effects or even death. Because of this, only some people can or should have this procedure.


Bone marrow transplants usually are used only for young patients who have severe sickle cell anaemia. However, the decision to give this treatment is made on a case-by-case basis.


Bone marrow used for a transplant must come from a closely matched donor. This is usually a close family member who doesn't have sickle cell anaemia.


Researchers continue to look for ways to reduce the risks of this procedure.


Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is being studied as a possible treatment for sickle cell anaemia. Researchers want to know whether a normal gene can be put in the bone marrow of a person who has sickle cell anaemia. This would cause the body to make normal red blood cells.


Researchers also are studying whether they can "turn off" the sickle cell gene or "turn on" a gene that makes red blood cells behave normally.


New Medicines

Researchers are studying several new medicines for sickle cell anaemia. These include:

* Butyric acid. This is a food additive that may increase normal haemoglobin in the blood.

* Nitric oxide. This medicine may make sickle cells less sticky and keep blood vessels open. People who have sickle cell anaemia have low levels of nitric oxide in their blood.

* Decitadine. This medicine increases haemoglobin F levels (this type of haemoglobin carries more oxygen). It may be a good choice instead of hydroxyurea.

Hope you have benefited from this piece. Really the only way for now of terminating this disease is when marriages between two individuals with sickle cell gene are avoided; but this is a big decision to reach. It is easier said than done. What would you have done if you were in a similar situation as Idrisu?



Comments

  1. Thank you so so much Bukola for sharing this with us...I am mostly grateful. May God Bless you more...amen.

    I must confess...I was deeply moved to the marrow when I ran through this content...I felt every word...coz it was so so deep!

    Now I believe that God has given Man the ability to make choices in life. We all have the opportunity to choose the best of life as long as we live. Where we are today is a result of the decision we took yesterday. Everyone has absolute right to his or her choice.

    Therefore, I were in Idris shoes, I couldn't have settled less for the choice he made for the following reasons.

    I believe in the Ultimate Power of Love, because Love can heal and resurrect a wounded or dead soul. Love can melt a frozen Heart and can calm a raging anger. I believe in the Magical Power of Love for Love can do the unthinkable...LOVE CAN HEAL THE WORLD!

    Although, there things in this world we just have to make sacrifices for...But the Ultimate sacrifice is one made for LOVE. If Idris is quite aware of the implication of his choice...I believe his FAITH in GOD and the Love conceived in his Heart is much more powerful than any Immaginable affairs of this world...The choice Idris made today I think is simply based on LOVE...FAITH...PEACE...AND ETERNAL HAPPINESS...that he had ever dreamt of.

    Inspite of how messed up each one of them might be Medically...Idris is a one Man who has choosen to love unconditionally and has accepted his other half into the FOREVER FAMILY...wat a great lesson the life of this young Man is!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your contribution, Adeola.

    ReplyDelete

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