The Head, Department of Medicine at the General Hospital, Ijede, Dr. Ogo-Oluwa Adeyemi, has asserted that Sickle Cell Disorder is not a death sentence as those diagnosed with sickle cell disease have the tendency of living longer than expected due to improvement in medical and personal care.
Dr. Adeyemi, who disclosed this at an event organised by the hospital to mark the year 2021 World Sickle Cell Day at the facility, maintained that if people with the disorder receive good treatment, erase their fears, are adequately informed and able to manage crisis effectively, the probability of attaining the age of 80 years or more is very possible.
The HoD described Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) as a genetic abnormality that causes dysfunction in oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells and reduces the lifespan of the blood, stressing that “Sickle cell disorder is caused because the inherited genes, one each from the two parents are defective, resulting in the shortage of healthy red blood cells and blockage of blood flow”.
Crisis, according to Adeyemi, can start from infancy and the earliest manifestation for most children is the hand and foot syndrome, noting that those who live in rural areas or do not receive adequate treatment have tropical splenomegaly syndrome (the enlargement of the spleen and liver) making them have very big abdomen, looking malnourished, experiencing frequent pain crisis, irritability, anaemia and stunted growth, among others.
He averred that people living with sickle cell disorder are prone to other diseases like hypertension and diabetes, adding that some of them may also end up being infected with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and a few other communicable diseases because of their frequent exposure to blood transfusion.
Adeyemi revealed that one out of four Nigerians has a sickle cell trait, adding that the efforts to curtail the spread of the disease by reducing the birth of children with the disorder are being undermined by brain drain, quackery, substandard laboratories, fake reagents, moral and ethical dilemma, wrong laboratory diagnosis and faulty machines among others.
He, however, noted that early diagnosis and comprehensive health check through an enhanced system goes a long way in helping to determine the genotype of newborns so that prompt healthcare management, treatment and monitoring will commence in earnest in order to prevent frequent crisis and early death among sufferers.
While declaring that everybody has a part to play in ensuring a decline in the number of children born with sickle cell disorder, Adeyemi charged those living with the disorder, their parents and caregivers to erase their fears, get informed and manage their crisis adequately to live a normal and fruitful life as everyone else in society.