Acute Chest Syndrome: After the Death of Segun

Acute Chest Syndrome: After the Death of Segun

Ariike, is a penultimate secondary school student whose friend and classmate dies suddenly, a week to their WASSCE. How does she find out about his death? What is the cause of his death?

Ariike Could Barely Concentrate In Class

“Mummy, welcome” Kehinde and Taiwo chorus as soon as Aunty Kemi, stepped into the living room. Aunty Kemi, was my late mother’s younger sister, who took sole responsibility of my sister and I when Mother passed on.

All through the day, I could barely concentrate in class. The head teacher had stepped into the classroom that morning to break the sad news of Segun’s death. According to her he had died from “Acute Chest Syndrome”.
I was saddened by the fact that he died a week to the commencement of our WASSCE.

She Finally Worked Up The Courage To Talk To The Head Teacher

During break hours, I tried to know more about this condition that had taken my dear friend but couldn’t. I finally, took courage to ask the headteacher, and she couldn’t say much except that it was a complication of people living with sickle cell disease. From her, I learnt that Segun was always sick and out of school due to the sickle cell disorder. “Ariike, why not ask your Doctor Aunty, she would know more. Feel free to share whatever knowledge you gain from her about the condition with me”

“Okay, thank you ma’am” I managed a small smile, at least I was now sickle cell literate.
“Ariike, come here” Aunty Kemi called out to me from her room after everyone had gone to bed, I was in the sitting room trying to solve the indices problem I saw in the WASSCE past questions earlier in the day.

What Happened Ariike?

“Here, I am ma’am” I say wondering why she called me.
“You’ve not been your usual chit-chatty self. I noticed that when I came back from work you simply greeted me and sauntered off to continue doing the house chores, no gist about school, nothing at all. I hope no problem?” Aunty Kemisola asked with a worried look.
“Come and sit by my side” she adds patting the place beside her on the bed.

I am so fogged with emotions that I take no notice of when the tears I’ve managed to suppress ever since I heard the news about Segun spiral down my face in torrents.

“What happened Anike Mii?”
“A friend of mine in school di–edd” I say with so much difficulty
“Oh my God, what happened to him?” Aunty Kemi asked with a downcast face.
“According to the head teacher he died of Acute Chest Syndrome. Aunty Mii, what’s that?”

What’s Acute Chest Syndrome?

“Well, it’s one of the complications that comes with the sickle cell disease. Do you know what the sickle cell disease is?” I nod yes.
” The acute chest syndrome is characterized with fever (>38°C), dyspnoea, tachypnoea, tachycardia,lung infiltrates, and….”
“Aunty Mii, wait what’s dyspnea, tachypnea and tachycardia?”

“Tachycardia simply refers to the rapid beating of the heart at over 90 BPM (normally it should be at 60 BPM), tachypnea and dyspnea on the other hand mean rapid breathing and shortness of breath respectively. It is a Vaso-occlusive crisis.
My dear, people with sickle cell disease, experience different types of crisis, they’re; aplastic crises, hyper-hemolytic crisis, sequestration crises, and Vaso-occlusive or painful crises”

“Go on, Aunty Mii” I say, trying hard to resist the temptation of dozing off.
“It can be detected by running a chest X-ray, Electrocardiogram (ECG) test, reticulocyte count, etc. An electrocardiogram, is a machine that’s used to study(or examine) the electrical activity of the heart. This syndrome can only be found in people with sickle cell beta-zero Thalassemia, and sickle cell anemia (HbSS), so your friend must have had one of the two genotypes”.

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How Do You Treat Acute Chest Syndrome?

“Aunty Mii, if someone who has ACS comes to your hospital, how will you treat the person?”
“Good question! This depends on the person’s age at times, if the person is an adult (with asthma too) then there’d be need to administer a bronchodilator. A bronchodilator is a type of drug that relaxes the muscles surrounding the airways. It helps to dilate the bronchioles and bronchi,thereby helping to reduce resistance in the respiratory airway.
Also, antibiotics can be used to treat children. There’s something we call incentive spirometer, it is an handheld device that helps to improve the functioning of a patient’s lungs. It facilitates lungs expansioning and strengthening by training patients to take long and slow breaths”

“Ariike, it’s 11:30pm already, wa lo sun (go and sleep)” Aunty Kemi says yawning.
“Okay, Aunty Mii. Thank you for the lecture, I enjoyed it even though you were using so many medical terms. We will continue tomorrow when you come back from work. Odaaro ma (Good night, ma’am)” I finish.
“Odaaro, oko Mii (Good night, my darling)”

Acute Chest Syndrome: After the Death of Segun


Writer: Durodola-Oloto Ayomide M.

Durodola-Oloto Ayomide Majemuoluwakiiye, is a student of the Lagos State University college of medicine who is passionate about creating awareness for the sickle cell disease.She is a Christocentric believer, a content creator, feminist and entrepreneur.

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