Lisa and Phil had been in a 5 year long relationship. Like every relationship, it had it’s ups and downs but overall things have been amazing and they had decided to spend the rest of the lives together. They began wedding plans and they informed their families and friends. They had already done introductory rites and other cultural requirements. They sent out invites and announced their upcoming wedding on social media. A couple of weeks to their white wedding, Lisa and Phil met with their Pastor who was to officiate the ceremony. He asked them whether they had done any blood tests such as HIV, Blood group, Hepatitis B etc. Since they were both healthy, it had never occurred to them to do those tests. They took their Pastor’s advice and did the various tests.
They were relieved to find out that they were both HIV negative. After showing the results to their Pastor with the other tests, he looked at one of the tests results and suddenly the smile on his face disappeared. It turns out that they were both AS from the results of their Electrophoresis tests. They didn’t understand why that was a big deal. He then explained to them that because of these results he doesn’t recommend them to continue the relationship. “Why not?”, they asked… What’s the electrophoresis test all about? Why is it that important? Should two people who are both AS marry? The answer to this question isn’t straightforward and we shall get to that later in this article. But first what’s electrophoresis all about?
Hemoglobin electrophoresis (often called just electrophoresis) is a test that’s used to determine the different types of Hemoglobin in the blood including abnormal ones. There are two normal types of hemoglobin which are:
Hemoglobin A (Hgb A): Most common type in healthy adults.
Hemoglobin F (Hgb F): Found in newborns and unborn babies. Known as Fetal hemoglobin. It is replaced by Hgb A almost immediately after birth.
There are also abnormal types of hemoglobin which include:
Hemoglobin S (Hgb S): This is found in sickle cell patients. Sickle cell is a genetic disorder inherited which leads to abnormally shaped red blood cells. These cells can’t move flexibly and transport oxygen. They often get stuck leading to chronic pain, infections, and other complications.
Hemoglobin C (Hgb C): This type doesn’t transport oxygen well which could cause mild anemia
Hemoglobin E(Hgb E): Often found in people in Southeast Asia. Such individuals usually display little to no symptoms of anemia
Why do I need the hemoglobin electrophoresis test?
As we mentioned earlier, hemoglobin is a genetic trait which is transferred from parents to their children. Thus, it’s necessary to get tested to know your status. Most adults have the genotype AA which they inherited from both parents. This also means that you need to know the status of your prospective partner as it will determine the genotype of your future children. Knowing this will enable you to minimize the risk of birthing children who carry abnormal types, especially children with the sickle cell disease (Genotype SS).
If you’re AA, you need not worry about who you marry because all your children will be healthy. The trick is usually with adults who are AS or SS. Hgb A is dominant while Hgb S is recessive. Though AS adults are healthy, they are carriers of the sickle cell gene because of the abnormal type they have as well. Here are a couple of illustrations of the genetic crosses to show how they are transferred from parent to children:
The above diagram shows that if you’re AS, and your partner is also AS then there’s a one in four (25%) chance of having a child with sickle cell. It gets worse when AS marries SS with a 50% chance of birthing children having sickle cell. If you’re AS or SS, then it’s recommended to marry someone who is AA because all your children will be healthy.
Of course, there are several combinations given the different types of hemoglobin which we can’t all illustrate. Below is a summary diagram of all the possible combinations and the outcomes. For each combination it says whether it’s recommended to marry or not.
What should I do?
If it’s not already clear from all what has been said, then do your hemoglobin electrophoresis test as soon as possible. If you’re in a relationship, you and your partner should get tested. The earlier you know the better to avoid being too emotionally attached only to realize that you need to break up. If you’re single, doing this will enable you to know who to get into a relationship with. If you’re interested in someone, make sure you find out if you’re both compatible early enough before feelings go deep.
While this article has been focused on electrophoresis, it’s not the only test you should do. Other important ones include HIV, Hepatis B, Rhesus blood type, and Blood type. Doing these tests is a worthwhile investment.
Should AS marry AS?
Now back to this question. The answer isn’t black or white. As mentioned earlier it’s not recommended because of the possible consequences. Some people still insist because they feel the love is so strong. Well, I’ll let the numbers do the talking here. About 300,000 babies are born with sickle cell worldwide. Most of these kids are born in low-income countries and as such tend to pass away before they turn five. Also 95% of such kids born in high-income countries like the United States often live to the age of 18. Because of better health care in such countries 60 – 65% of them live longer than that. It’s clear that their survival rates are low. Moreso, the pain and trauma sick children go through is not something you’ll like to experience.
Yes, you may be so in love now, but all of that excitement will fade away and you’ll be left with the reality to deal with. No parent wants to see their children agonize frequently. Patients usually have episodes of pain or crisis, swellings in their hands and feet, chest pain or they could even suffer from strokes. There are other symptoms.
To be fair, there exist sickle cell treatments out there. Currently the only cure for sickle cell is a blood and bone marrow transplant. However, these procedures are costly, and they come with their own risks. Besides that, there exists other medicines or transfusions which providers recommend to manage the complications and chronic pain. Some include Voxelotor, Hydroxyurea, Crizanlizumab-tmca amongst others. These drugs will only ease the condition.
The choice of whether two people who are AS should marry comes down to the health of your unborn children. Are you willing to take the risk? Choosing to get married knowing that you can have sick children is selfish to be honest. You’re putting your desires above the health of your kids. They say: “Prevention is better than cure”. Would you rather satisfy your desires now and pay a huge price for the rest of your life or experience a heartbreak now and have a fulfilling marriage for the rest of your life? The latter is a better option. If you can avoid the trauma, why not choose to do so? The decision is yours to make.
We hope you were enriched by this article. Please do share this with your loved ones. It’s very important for us to do our blood tests before choosing a partner. If you need more guidance to find out if you and your partner are compatible, then go ahead and book a FREE coaching session below. Also SUBSCRIBE to our channel for more content on love, marriage, and relationships. Thank you for reading and see you in the next one.