Please I need your opinion.
My younger brother is AS and the lady he wants to marry is also AS. It’s been generating a lot of controversy and he wants my advice. Please can AS marry AS? Are there any medical interventions to prevent the birth of an SS baby?
Wow. This is a really tough one and I know my answer will generate even more controversy. For one thing, I am also genotype SS so I am sure people will anticipate that my response would be to tell you to dissuade him. Well, it is not.
Had you asked me this question seven or eight years ago, my response would have been unequivocal. That you discourage him and do what you can to make sure they do not marry. Life has since changed my outlook.
Marriage has never been a one plus one equals two business. There is a lot about the joining of two people in holy matrimony that goes way beyond what the eyes can see. It rarely has anything to do with looks, character, wealth, reputation family etc. when two people form a genuine love bond.
Additionally, the odd thing about the genotype situation is that there is nothing to suggest that when two people who carry only one S gene have a child together s/he will definitely be SS. What do I mean? Well, two AS people could wind up will all AA children (good), all AS children (good), a combination of AA and AS children (good), a combination of AA, AS, SS (fair), AA and SS (fair), AS and SS (fair) or all SS (bad).
As you can see from the above, the higher the number of children the couple choose to have, the higher the chances of having genotype SS kids though they are born in no particular order (i.e. there is no guarantee which genotype will come first, last or middle. Save for special tests, you have no way of knowing).
Additionally, there are people who are genotype SS and just never fall sick! My father’s sister found out she was genotype SS well into her 60s by which time she had lived her life to the fullest, been through two marriages, had 8 sons, and was an active farmer. She died in her 70s . I also know of a lady in Jos who only found out she was genotype SS when two of her children died in quick succession (they were born genotype SS) and she and her husband took the test and realised that she was SS and he, AS.
So for me, save in the instance of an arranged marriage, once the heart is truly involved, all that is required is sufficient counselling. Let them know as much about being genotype SS as possible. The pain the sufferer experiences, the heartache they will go through with each crisis the child/children has/have, the possibility of outliving their child/children etc. If after all this, and meeting different people who live with the condition, they still opt to go ahead, they should be allowed to. Marriage in reality is not about having kids. You could also meet a lot of people with perfect genes whom you feel no emotional connection to and that matters a lot in marriage.
As for your second question, yes there are now medical procedures that are used to determine the genotype of a foetus thereby giving you the opportunity to know if you want to risk keeping the baby or not. This requires abortion should you decide not to keep the pregnancy.
Fact – The procedure is expensive
Fact – Abortion is emotionally draining and physically risky
Fact – There could be an error in the diagnosis and you wind up aborting a perfectly healthy baby
Fact – How many abortions would you risk having if each foetus turns out to be SS?
Fact – Does the value of a human life lie only in its physical health?
For all the reasons listed above, I don’t really favour the procedure.
That said, with medical advancements, sickle cell disease is far easier to manage nowadays and life expectancy is a lot better now than it ever was.
So, your brother and his intended should get an education and make up their minds to stick it through should they be blessed with SS kids.
To those yet to find themselves in this dilemma, one thing to do is to know your genotype as soon as you can and the minute you meet someone you are seriously attracted to, start asking these questions before things get intense. It’s easier to back out at the early stage than when things have gone far enough to start discussing marriage.
I wish all intending couples wisdom and God’s guidance as they make their choice of partner.