Abimbola Edwin: Sickle cell not a death sentence
Crimson Bow Initiative recently held a seminar titled, “Project keep a warrior warm, phase one.” The programme featured sensitisation/awareness walk round the neighbourhoods of Ijaye Low Cost Housing Estate, Agege.
In her opening remark, C.E.O of Crimson Bow Initiative, Miss Oluwatimileyin Edwin, who herself is a sickle cell patient, said: “It is a known fact that Nigeria is the capital of sickle cell in the world. And due to stigmatisation, people tend to keep quiet about the genotype. This event is to give hope to people with sickle cell, while teaching them ways to live fruitfully.”
She said though there has been more awareness on the issue in recent years, there is still need to break the stigmatisation. And though she has been able to live meaningfully for the past five years, “the experience has not been easy. It was just two years ago that I publicly admit being an “SS”, she said.
Dr. Egboruwa Ope of the University of Lagos medical centre also spoke on the disease, its prevention and management. He listed some of the ways to prevent having the condition, including awareness of one’s genotype, regular routine check ups and appropriate medications.
Also speaking at the programme was the 56- year-old mother of the CEO of the foundation, Abimbola Edwin.
Narrating her experience as a sickle cell patient, she said: “My experience has been traumatic, though I won’t say it’s so bad because I’ve been living a good life to God’s glory. As we all know, sickle cell anaemia comes with crisis called bone pain. Mine was extremely traumatic as a child. Then, we had 13 weeks per school term, but I spent half of it in school and half in the hospital. Sometimes, I would be away from school for seven weeks. The last crisis I had was in January 2015.
“And though the awareness of sickle cell anaemia has improved in Nigeria, but it is only high among the elite. A large percentage of the less privileged still does not know of the disease, which is why we brought the campaign to this community.”
She advised singles to know their genotype before marriage.
“I would say my case was destiny, because while dating my husband and he kept talking about marriage, I wanted to know his status, but he refused to check it. It was after I got pregnant that I insisted he went for the test. It was then he discovered he was AS. That period was so traumatic for both of us. My consultant and other doctors at University College Hospital, Ibadan, advised us to terminate the pregnancy.
“I was told my chance was slim and that I had 50/50 or even 70/25 per cent chance in child bearing, but my husband insisted we kept the baby and our parents were in support. When my child, Oluwatimileyin was four months old, I had a major crisis. I was bedridden and couldn’t do anything. Then some missionary came to the hospital and I gave my life to Christ after the encounter.
“Though science is now creating a way for an AS couple not to have a sickle cell child, but it is quite expensive. However, it is not 100 per cent guaranteed. So, if you don’t have the resources, I would advise against two AS people getting married. I can’t compare sickle cell crisis pain with any other physical pain. The main solution to this entire situation is your faith.
“Sickle cell Anaemia is not a death sentence. I heed medical advice and observe appropriate medication. I engage in every normal activity— I’m a trader, I travel and I work. Now, I rarely have crisis, because whenever I feel it is about to start, I retreat.”
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