Recently I was discussing with a friend of mine that the new pick up line in Lagos is “What is your genotype?” Initially, it felt like a random question but in the last couple of months, it has become rampant. During our first conversation, a guy inquired about my genotype before asking about other personal details like age, relationship status, employment status, family size and the list goes on.
A friend’s best-friend was looking to settle down with someone other than his girlfriend of 10 years because his girlfriend, like him, was AS. We got talking one day and he asked for my genotype. As soon as I responded, he wanted to know whether I was willing to settle down. “But Amina is your girlfriend” I said. With a lot of emotion, he told me their kids might have painful crises. I told him I was not ready to settle down so he moved on. How long will he continue to look for someone with the AA genotype?
Last week, I was discussing this post with a colleague of mine who felt people should not let genotype stop them from marrying the love of their lives. She gave an example of a friend who married someone with the SS genotype and they have a beautiful daughter. His wife’s parents who are well read knew the consequences of getting married as AS, but decided to go ahead out of love. “Stop planning everything, quit playing God” she concluded. Another colleague joined the conversation and narrated the story of a family with 4 sickle cell children; they recently buried another child and the youngest asked his mom if he was next in line of death by crisis. I understand there are things we cannot prevent but having a sickle cell child is not one of them.
The conversation kept replaying in my head so I reached out to a doctor friend to school me on genotype. Here is a transcript of our discussion.
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: Can you educate me on genotypes?
Dr. Olufisayo: Genotypes are the genes you are made of. Let’s keep it simple. If you are AA, you can marry AS or SS. If, you marry AS, you have 50 percent chance of having AA or AS per birth. If as AA, you marry SS, you only have the SS partner to worry about. All your children will be AS. Now if you are AS and you marry AS, you have 25 percent chance of having AA or SS and 50 percent chance of having AS. So it’s that 25 percent that’s the bother. If AS marries SS, 50 percent chance of AS or SS
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: What about SC and AC. Are they genotypes?
Dr. Olufisayo: SC and AC are also genotypes. If SC marries AC,their offspring will be AS, SC, AC, CC (I don’t know if CC exists, I have never heard of such case)
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: From reading, SS, CS and CC are carriers
Dr. Olufisayo: Not totally correct. You see we have normal and abnormal genes. A is the normal human gene while all other forms are abnormal genes which results largely form mutations. If one has AA, one is homogeneous and can be said to be normal. If you have one normal- (A) and any of the abnormal gene, then you are a carrier. Literal meaning: you carry the abnormal gene and you can transmit to your offspring. If you are homogenous for the abnormal gene: SS, CC then that person has full blown disease.
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: I had a discussion with my colleague and she felt planning our life based on genotype isn’t a good idea. According to her, she has a relative who married an SS and they are living happily ever after.
Dr. Olufisayo: I don’t think it’s a good idea too, but one must be aware of consequences. An informed decision helps you to plan for potential consequences.
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: Yes, they are aware. However, they are of the opinion than love is greater than genotype.
Dr. Olufisayo: Remember I said percentages not absolute. AS can marry AS and have all AA children.By the same token, they can have all SS
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: I understand there is prenatal testing – where a foetus can be terminated if discovered to be SS.
Dr. Olufisayo: It really depends on personal values. Abortion is not acceptable to all. Sometimes, it might be best to sidestep the possibility of having such child. What if the next five conceptions are SS? And one keeps aborting them. Secondly, there are economic costs to that option. Not all can afford prenatal testing and abortion.
ASÀKÉ-Ọ̀KÍN: Is pre-natal testing and evacuation considered as abortion?
Dr. Olufisayo: Prenatal testing is an entity on its own while abortion is another. Prenatal testing, simply put, refers to means by which a fetus (unborn child) is tested for different diseases. Prenatal testing helps prepare the family for what lies ahead. Abortion is a general term used for termination of pregnancy. It could be spontaneous, commonly referred to as miscarriage; or voluntary termination, that is, a patient requests for removal. Evacuation is the procedure performed by the doctor to remove all conception products from the mother’s uterus.
I have heard stories of people’s crises, their experiences vary. While a few had an easy life dealing with crises; others had a hard time. Simple things the other “genotype group” take for granted like cold weather can trigger a crises situation for an SS or SC. If there was a kit or application that could predetermine the genotype of a fetus before conceiving, it would have been advisable to marry any “type”
Personally I have gotten to that point I consider my unborn children before making any decision. So, before you go ahead nurturing uncontrollable feelings for the opposite gender, if you are not AA, don’t be ashamed to use the pick up question ” What’s your genotype? “
Till next time, analyze your genotype compatibility.
Photo Credit: jejooweb.com