– By Tayo Faloye
Recently, on a visit to a Veterinary outlet, I discovered one of the young boys that works there wasn’t around, so i asked after him from the Veterinarian. I had taken an interest in the young dude whom I immediately knew was a Sickle Cell Warrior from the very first time I set my eyes on him. When engaged in a bid to create a bond and draw him closer, he vehemently denied being a Warrior. I laughed but went ahead advising and encouraging him nevertheless.
You see, I have been there too denying being a Warrior on many fronts to avoid pity-parties or stigmatization. I kept on with the denial even while in Higher Institution to evade the ‘see finish’ syndrome arising that may attract any form of derision to my person. Hence, I bore most of my crisis and some hospitalisations discretely without disclosure to roommates and colleagues I shared same hostel with off campus, even my GF except one person.
So, when I inquired from the Vet about the boy, he told me he wasn’t available having just lost his dad recently in an automobile accident. He further revealed that things were on the rough side for them at home because they’re three as siblings living with sickle cell disorder in their family. My jaw dropped.Three Sickle Cellers in a home at this time and age? What’s going on?! Maintaining one Warrior costs a fortune, let alone two or three. Made a promise to donate drugs to them through our NGO and exchanged WhatsApp number with the Vet so he could serve as a point of contact with them. (The boy later got a pack of routine drugs from DISCON but didn’t turn up to get more for his siblings as instructed).
Then when September arrived, which is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, our NGO, Disability & Sickle Cell Organization of Nigeria (DISCON), decided to do routine drugs handouts to Warriors who may be in need. In the course of the small program, meeting more parents especially mothers grappling with two and three children with the disorder made me come to the realization that we are lagging from overcoming this SCD battle despite the awareness and sensitization efforts of many NGOS championing this cause. On a quick retrospection, it became obvious willful breeding of SCD babies ranks higher than wrong genotype diagnosis in Nigeria.
Some of the stories shared during the giveaway program were agonizing. One of the mothers engaged sincerely said she knew she wasn’t genetically compatible with her fiance (now husband) and tried ending the relationship since they both possess the AS genotype but he wouldn’t let go…
(Continue From Next Episode)