About 15,000 babies are born yearly with Sickle Cell disease in Ghana, the President of Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana, Prof. Kweku Ohene-Frimpong has said.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Prof. Kweku Ohene-Frimpong said this happens because carriers of the Sickle Cell genes are ignorant about the disease and only find out when their children are diagnosed with the disease.
Sickle Cell is the most common inherited blood disease in the world and affects people living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea, according to Prof. Ohene-Frimpong.
He indicated that parents who are both ‘AS’ can give birth to children who have normal blood AA’, ‘AS’, or ‘SS’. And added that there are about four other types of the disease but 'SS' is the most common type in Ghana.
“People who carry a genetic trait often carry an abnormal gene and a normal version of the same gene-one from each parent. And in many conditions, you need double dose of the genes from both parents before a disease can manifest,” Prof. Ohene-Frimpong added.
“A different protein called hemoglobin is made in the red blood cells of people with the Sickle Cell disease. They make a slightly different form of the protein that carries oxygen in the body, which we call the sickle hemoglobin,” he explained.
According to him, when the sickle hemoglobin is not carrying the oxygen it begins to behave differently and forces the red blood cells- which are normally soft and round and are able to “squeeze” through small blood vessels- to become stiff and very sticky and it can block the flow of blood in the body.
When sickle cell clots the blood circulation, that area no longer gets enough blood and the low oxygen causes inflammation and it can lead to pain according to him.
He said less than half of children with Sickle Cell survive with the disease beyond five years.
He, however, added that when the highly fatal disease is diagnosed early, parents can be advised on how to take care of their children to be able to survive.
On the same platform, Nana Opokua, a student of the University of Ghana who has lived with Sickle Cell disease for years said although sometimes she suffers pain, she is able to live “like any other person.”
Listen to Professor Kweku Ohene-Frimpong, Nana Opokua talk about Sickle Cell on the Super Morning Show below.
Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com| Akosua Asiedua Akuffo| [email protected]