The world has been plagued with countless ill-fated love stories of sickle cell carriers. Educational outreaches and campaigns to fight against the prevalence of the sickle cell disease spring up like mushrooms in both urban and rural societies. Many who have been exposed to these outreaches either virtually or offline are now accustomed to the incompatibility chart;
AS + AS
AC + AS
SS + AC
SS + AS
AC + SC
Sickle cell carriers (and patients) have been made to believe that they pose a threat to the health of their future offspring if wise decisions are not taken as to whom they choose as copulation partners.
But, what if I told you that genotype incompatibility can no longer be a hindrance to your love life?
Do you know that a sickle cell carrier can copulate with another sickle cell carrier and still birth completely normal children with no sign of any genetic disease?
More excitingly, this can occur as many times as possible.
This is feasible with “Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
PGD, first performed by Alan Handyside in 1988- involves a genetic test carried out on embryos to detect genetic abnormality, to help avoid chances of birthing an offspring with an inheritable genetic disease. For this process to betide, an IVF (In-vitro fertilization) procedure is carried out with the reproductive cells (Sperm and Egg cells) of the couple. After fertilization occurs, a biopsy of some embryonic cells for screening and selection takes place. Only the unaffected embryos are then transferred to the uterus for implantation. PGD has a 98% success rate in determining genetic abnormalities. PGD has also helped reduced chances of miscarriage by 50%.
PGD is presently the only available option for avoiding a risk of having a child affected with a genetic disease prior to implantation.
It is important to note that carrier parents birthing “SS” genotype offsprings is under the probability of 1 in 4. This is what makes the PGD possible.
As thrilling as this sounds, before damning all the consequences in the world to marry your genotype incompatible “one-true-love”, the universal saying by Albert Camus “Everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage” shouldn’t be thrown to the wind.
This is because PGD has downsides, which includes:
This process is quite expensive as it costs about 5 million naira for complete diagnosis and screening
Women above 35 have lower chances of IVF success
PGD rivals several codes of ethics as encourages Eugenics and problems of rejection and discarding of ”unqualified” embryos
Unavailability of PGD certified fertility centers in Nigeria
PDG is a complex and time consuming (Timeline varies between eight to eighteen months)
With the Alternative offered by PGD and the cons stated above, a question is thrown to you. Would you do all these if circumstances demand? Is PGD worth the shot?
Written by Favour Ikharo, Bayero University Kano, Kano State, NIGERIA