PR Newswire

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 30, 2021

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- True to its vision of helping to sensitize the world about sickle cell disorder (SCD), the African Sickle Cell News & World Report – through its Sickle Cell Education Centre – has released the first quarterly edition of 2022.

Throughout Africa, medical caregivers and otherwise savvy laymen and women are conscious of the imperative of sickle avoidance. For those who have witnessed firsthand the effects of SCD on children and adults, there's little desire to knowingly bequeath the gift of pain.

African-American 'Warrior Woman' Osunfemi Wanbi Njeri's parents were aware of their status as carriers of the sickle cell gene. Proceeding on to marriage, the couple knew that via prenatal diagnosis, it was possible to avoid giving birth to a child with full-blown sickle cell. Prenatal tests in California confirmed Osunfemi only had the trait but not the disease. It was a false negative, a misdiagnosis which paved the way to the birth of a vocalist, song writer, Ifa devotee, Reiki therapist and much more! Her parents would almost certainly have got rid of the pregnancy had the results been accurate.

In Africa, a similar scenario played out in the life of a medical family. Premarital genotype tests had assured the intending couple that they were both AA, ie, none carried the gene for reproducing a child with the sickle trait, talk less the disease itself. Emboldened, the couple went ahead and got married. To the couple's disappointment, three of their five children were diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia. The family sued the laboratory where the genotype tests were conducted but eventually settled out of court.

On the other hand, in those days before premarital testing, it was a hit or miss whether children were born with SCD. It was in that period that Julie Coker, the 1957 Beauty Queen and one of the pioneers of Television Broadcasting in Africa got married. Ms Coker would eventually abandon her flourishing career to take care of her son who was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia (and later leukemia, a blood cancer).

Up on the forefront of sickle cell awareness in Africa, the Gabriel Adewunmi Alabi Foundation (GAAF) proves a point by taking awareness to teenagers, attempting to 'catch 'em young' before emotional attachment beclouds their better judgment later in life.

Talking of awareness, there has been a change of guard at the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) with Regina Hartfield succeeding Beverley Francis-Gibson as President/CEO. Founded in 1972, the SCDAA is an amalgam of sickle cell organizations in the United States with focus on awareness and research for a cure.

The first quarter edition of Sickle Cell News also xrays the life and times of Bolaji Badejo, the unlikely Hollywood actor who performed a lead role in The Alien (1979), one of the 20th Century's most celebrated films. Seven foot tall Badejo (1953 – 1992) lived with sickle cell anaemia.

Sickle Cell Disease is the world's most commonly-inherited blood disorder. It affects all races but is more common among people of African descent. SCD is also prevalent in India and among ethnic minorities in the UK and USA. It is estimated that a fifth of the world's population carries an abnormal gene with the sickle cell gene being the most common.

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