Medical Technology Brings Hope For Sickle Cell Couples

A medical revolutionary approach to the treatment of the dreaded Sickle Cell Anaemia, has brought hope and succour to sufferers of the disease.

The new treatments called, Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and IVF, will ensure that affected couples will have healthy children, who would not have to contend with it in life.

A world renowned fertility expert, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, told a gathering of experts and journalists in a lecture he delivered at the 2016 edition of the Institute of Genetic Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Bodija, Ibadan, that the new breakthrough in medicine, is a reproductive technology used through IVF to diagnose genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anaemia and autism, in pregnancy or before embryo implantation.

He further disclosed that technology now allows experts to implant a healthy embryo that will not be affected by sickle cell into a female recipient, irrespective of her genotype or that of her husband.

Elaborating on the procedures for PGD, through IVF, Ashiru said: “What we do is to first stimulate the woman to produce many eggs. We then take the eggs, fertilize them with the husband’s sperm and allow them to grow for three days in the laboratory.

‘‘On the third day, we take these embryos and analyze them for any anomalies. If there are 10 embryos, we analyze all of them, based on
that, we know the complete type and make-up of each of each of these embryos.

‘‘We are then able to screen the bad or abnormal embryos and we take the normal embryos and insert back into the woman for fertilization.’’

On the history of the procedure, Ashiru explained that the first successful healthy sickle cell baby free of the traits was delivered in
2013, while his laboratory is currently supervising many of similar procedures.

He, however, disclosed a proviso which is that prospective recipients of the treatment must neither be aged, nor have adverse medical history.

While informing his audience that the technology is also useful for couples with other genetic diseases, who desire healthy off springs, he cautioned that it is costly at about N3, 000,000 and that it’s better for young people to undergo the necessary tests to avoid the risk of marrying people with the genetic disorder.

He said according to available medical statistics, the disease is inherent in one to two per cent of Nigeria population, which is about 15 million.

The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Tope Alonge, who is also the Chief Medical Officer of the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, said the new technology has given a new hope to people living with the disease as it had accounted for much unhappiness and crashed marriages in the past

According to him, ‘‘we preach and caution people so many times against this, but they still fall in love. The technology can now ensure that those with these traits can now produce healthy babies without having to take to the advice of their priests.’’

Credit: Guardian

Governor Ambode Pledges Support To Bone Marrow Transplant Centre In Lagos

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday pledged the support of the state government to see to the completion of the Bone Marrow Transplant Centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), which will go a long way to save the lives of those suffering sickle cell disorder.

The Governor spoke when the Chairman, Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SCFN), Professor Olu Akinyanju and National Direction and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Anneite Akinsete, paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, where he was adopted as the Patron of the Sickle Cell Club, Lagos, Nigeria, a position only previously occupied only by former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.


Commending the Foundation for intervening and providing succor to victims of Sickle Cell in Nigeria, Governor Ambode expressed optimism that the establishment of the Centre will be a major breakthrough, saying that the state government will provide support in line with the cardinal programmes of his administration to touch as many lives as possible.

“I want to say that I am surrounded by people who have sickle cell disorder, so I understand the depth of what you are doing. In my private life, I have also tried to touch lives, but again I want to commit officially here that we would support the establishment of that Bone Marrow Stem Cell Technology, even though it’s in LUTH, Lagos state as part of our own contribution, we would make sure that it takes off next year”.

“The reason is very simple; we’ve already sent like five patients to Rome and have come back and that technology has proven that we can go away from our past belief always thinking that people with sickle cell are condemned to death. But this new technology is a proof that we can save lives. As far as this is situated in Lagos, we as a government must ensure that everyone who visits that centre, somebody’s live must be saved and we are committed to doing that”, he said.

The Governor also thanked the Foundation for deeming it fit to adopt him as a Patron of the Lagos Sickle Cell Club, saying it was for him, a great honour to be accorded the privilege to contribute his own quota to alleviate the sufferings of sickle cell victims.

“I know what sickle cell disorder means to the average Nigerian family. Like you rightly pointed out, every extended family in Nigeria is affected by this and for a non-governmental organisation to come up and be in existence for almost two decades with the strides that you have actually articulated in the speech speaks volume about your level of commitment and your need to touch humanity which is something that also touches me”.

“Whatever it is that we have had in terms of partnership with the ministry of health, we are going to scale that up because I know that it is not only on your own level that we can form relationship but relationship that brings value and a win-win situation to all of us. I know that doing that, we would have been doing that major assignment given to us by God and that is touching humanity and I want to thank you greatly for bestowing this honour on me”, he said.

Earlier, Professor Akinyanju said the visit to Governor Ambode was to commemorate his adoption as Patron of the Sickle Cell Club Lagos and also solicit for continued partnership and support of the state government, saying it will go a long way to benefit victims of the disorder and their families.

Mrs Buhari Pledges To Support War Against Sickle Cell

The Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday pledged to support the war against Sickle Cell disorder in the country.

She Buhari made the promise at the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day Campaign launch jointly organised by Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation (OOF) and the Wife of the President in Abuja.

Mrs Buhari is also the Patron of the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day Campaign which is being organised as part of the 2015 World Sickle Cell day.

She expressed her commitment towards creating awareness on the treatment and management of the disease.

Mrs Buhari, who recalled her personal experience with the disease which lasted for many years, described it as “traumatic”.

“As I stand before you now, the memory of the agony which my late step daughter, Zulaihat Buhari, went through is something that will live with me and our entire family for the rest of our lives.

“I watched my daughter go through severe pains in almost every part of her body; often times, I became helpless and wished that I could also share the pain with her at those moments,’’ she said.

However, Mrs Buhari expressed delight that efforts of medical professionals who are initiating innovative strategies towards improving the standards of health of persons living with sickle cell disease are yielding commendable results.

She cited the establishment of the renowned sickle cell centre in Idiaraba, Lagos state, as one of the commendable examples.

She also lauded other efforts including numerous donations by well meaning individuals and corporate organisations.

Mrs Buhari solicited for more action and assistance to be extended to other parts of the country.

She called for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to meet up with those in advanced countries to be located in Borno and Yobe states.

According to her, studies show that the two states have the largest number of sickle cell trait with prevalence of 27.9 percent and 32.6 per cent, respectively.

“The choice of any of these states would be strategic to cater for those in the Northern part of the country,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Mrs Buhari as saying.

The wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osibanjo, read Mrs Buhari’s speech at the occasion.

Earlier, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, Founder, Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, said the event provides the opportunity to remind leaders to help influence the impact of the disease on the carriers and help sustain the fight.

He explained that the foundation has so far addressed issues such as Genetic Counselling, Pre-natal diagnosis of the disease and stroke risk detection and prevention, among others.

Akinyanju said also that Nigeria was currently carrying out Bone Marrow (Stem Cell) Transplant for the disease.

Highlight of the event was personal testimonies shared by some Nigerians who are living with the disease.

Those who spoke included Mr Ade Adebisi, a Rugby professional player based in the UK; Miss Samira Sanusi, an Author; and a graduate, Ms Omolola Ogunrinade.

Credit: NAN