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The girl with nine lives: A piece on sickle cell disease

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



The bubbly one, my cousin did not seem to have any problem… ever. She would run in all the school races, bring home the prizes and mak­e her siblings look like dummies. She always clamoured to be first, to be the best, even though she was fourth of four children.
She was the one to get away with mischief we took the blame for, because she was the apple of her mama’s eye and had a quick tongue. She was the one to marry first, brought home a good looking young man and got wedded a few months after.
“She’s an egg, handle her carefully,” her mother said, we did not know why.
She was the one to have two children in quick succession. “Won’t you take a break?” She was asked, we did not know the third was on its way. It was after her death we heard the truth about her mama’s egg. She had sickle cell anaemia, she did not survive.

N.B: Sickle cell disease, widely known as SS, is a genetic condition prevalent in Nigeria. Early detection, adequate information, support, and proper management, can help to reduce death rate or frequency of hospital visits as result of the condition. Sickle cell disease is NOT a death sentence.

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo