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Sickle cell carriers can marry each other – Expert says

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Sickle Cell Foundation, Dr Annette Akinsete, has said carriers of sickle cell anaemia should not be discouraged from marrying each other.

Akinsete, on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Muyiwa Talabi Exchange Blood Transfusion unit in Lagos, condemned the bill before the Senate prohibiting the marriage of sickle cell carriers.

“What we are saying is that children under the age of five should receive free health care, pregnant women who have sickle cell disorder should also be treated free. I expect to see those components in the legislation, not to say those who are carriers should not marry each other. Discouraging carriers of sickle cell from marrying each other is like trampling on their rights

“There are options available to those who are at risk of having children with sickle cell and you have to make those options known to them. Some people want to marry and adopt children, it is not for you to prescribe that Mr A and Miss B must not marry, it is against human rights. We have what is called prenatal diagnosis where couples who are at risk of having children with sickle cell can determine the genotype of their unborn child in early pregnancy,” Akinsete said.

She, however, said the foundation frowned at pregnant women who do abortion after discovering they were going to give birth to babies with sickle cell disorder.

Akinsete said the stem cell therapy and the exchange blood transfusion have been proven to improve the condition of people living with sickle cell disease.

The Chairman of the Foundation, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, said the Exchange Blood Transfusion unit would help to improve oxygen delivery and clinical condition more efficiently than simple transfusion by simultaneously replacing abnormal patient red blood cells.

The representative of the donor family, Mrs Busola Talabi, said the Exchange Blood Transfusion unit was donated to the foundation in the memory of Mr Olumuyiwa Talabi and to also help in relieving the pains of people living with sickle cell disease.

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