|6.1 in tall ft, Former President, Money Market Association of Nigeria, ‘Funso Sobande, has the body-build of
a heavyweight boxer and champion weightlifter. At any social gathering, he towers above everyone in sight.
You would never guess that Sobande is also intellectually well-endowed nor would you ever imagine that
he has had more than a passing acquaintance with sickle cell. Fatai Sulayman had a chat with him
De-fanging Sickle Cell
By Fatai Sulayman
First, to the Grace of God. Second perhaps to some peculiar trait in my genes.
Finally, to two women, no three, that have taken such good care of me my
mother, my sister, and my wife.
How often do you have a sickle cell crisis, say, in one year? When did you
last have one?
My crises episodes began to lessen between adolescence and full manhood.
Now and again I still have a crisis, though I am often aware of its coming and
can take steps rest, plenty of fluids, etc to mitigate against it early enough. I
had a mild one last December with pain in both knee joints
When were you diagnosed with Hb SS?
At about age 3.
Have you any relatives/friends with sickle cell?
Yes, my senior brother has SS; so does a close friend. Both of them have
coped quite well, My brother will be turning 45, and the other gentleman turned
40, though his case is much worse.
Exactly how have they coped?
They have received good care from doctors, blood transfusions when
necessary, good dietary and eating habits, avoiding dehydration through
drinking plenty of fluids especially water. They have also taken prescribed
medication, and avoided physical exertion. Of course prayers and exercise of
faith have a role to play in any situation.
You did your Masters degree in Scotland, one of the coldest places on
earth. How did you manage?
I was apprehensive at first how I was going to acclimatize - you know, leaving
the tropical weather I have been accustomed to all my life. How was I going to
cope? I discussed the matter with my doctor and he okayed my going,
advising on what precautions to take over there. I had just one major crises in
the three years I spent in Scotland.
As much as possible, society should try to curb it, though in practice complete eradication may not be possible, as nature
always tends to have the upper hand. Public awareness of sickle cellis insignificant relative to the available
statistics on its incidence.
You are married - how did you meet your wife?
We met through a friend.
Was sickle cell a matter of concern for you when you wanted to get married?
Yes it was, especially for my father-in-law, and some members of her family. They kicked against the idea that their
daughter should marry a man with sickle cell.
For me I thought I had made the right choice.
Have you ever had to terminate a romantic relationship on account of sickle cell?
No, rather I choose not to let such relationships develop to that point.
Did you ascertain your wife's genotype before marriage?
Yes, of course. Her genotype is AA.
At what point in your relationship did you tell your spouse you were with sickle cell?
I told her before we had gone too far in the relationship. I felt it was better to do this before we get to the Point of No Return,
so to say.
How did she take the information?
She decided to take time to understand the condition through reading, discussing with myself and family doctors. She also
developed a keen interest in my health and my early warning signals.
How would you advise singles with sickle cell on marriage? Would you advise them to put emotional attachment first
and genotype second (or vice versa)?
Everyone should be allowed to determine their own fate, provided they are fully aware of the implications. My view is that if
confronted with all the facts and implications of sickle cell disorder, dating couples will make the right choice.
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