Q: Good day Doc. Dr I am dating an SS genotype girl and I am AA. I really love her and soon I’m gonna marry her, God willing. Please doc, any advice on my marriage and how I can handle her sickle cell crises, because, as of now, she has frequent headaches, confusions, and her voice is whiny and cracked…..PLEASE DOC HELP!
A: Well, affairs of the heart are generally not easy to delve into. And so, the decision about your marriage has to be taken by you. I can help out with the medical information though :)
With your fiancee’s SS genotype, she stands the risk of having sickle cell crises. What does this mean? Usually, your blood cells are round, flexible and pliable moving through vessels easily. People with sickle cell anaemia, however, have cells that are sickle shaped, rigid and sticky. These blood cells are now able to block the small blood vessels found in hands and feet (leading to swelling), eyes (leading to problems with vision), chest, joints and abdomen (leading to pain). These sickle cells also damage the spleen (an infection fighting organ) leading to frequent infections.
Pregnancy in a woman with sickle cell anaemia is classified as high risk because the stress of pregnancy increases the risk of crises, pregnancy-induced hypertension, miscarriage and having a pre-mature baby. She would need to be in a centre that has medical personnel who are experienced with care of pregnant women with sickle cell anaemia.
The babies born to both of you will be carriers of the trait, having the AS genotype. When these children want to get married, they have to ascertain the genotype of their partners as marrying someone else with the sickle cell trait (AS) potentially opens them up to the possibility of having a child with sickle cell anaemia. Genetic counseling will be required here.
What can you do to help your fiancee? Ensure that she takes her folic acid supplements regularly to ensure that her body is producing sufficient red blood cells. She has to eat lots of green leafy vegetables too. Make sure she avoids places that are too hot or too cold and that she drinks sufficient water. If she travels long distances, she should move her legs frequently. Lack of any of these will precipitate a crisis. Definitive cure is through bone marrow transplant.
Whenever she experiences any of the symptoms of confusion and headaches as described above, please take her in to see her doctor asap.
For more on sickle cell anaemia, please click on the links below:
Have a good night. Y’all :D