The term ‘Abiku’ (‘Born To Die’) is synonymous with people living with Sickle Cell in some parts of Nigeria. This got me thinking a lot about the life expectancy of people living with Sickle Cell.
Growing up, I never for once thought about death in relation to my condition as a Sickle Cell carrier. This is not to say that I am not aware of the many deaths that are/were associated with the disease. In fact, I always heard many side comments from people in my teenage years and early 20’s of how I was ‘born to die’ just because I have Sickle Cell. Although those words were hurtful, I never let them sink into my subconscious. Maybe this frame of mind that I carried was as a result of being birthed by one who lived with the condition as well. I saw my mum as an exceptionally strong woman who wasn’t dying anytime soon then and now. My mum is gradually pushing 60 years old and she is still alive and ‘kicking’.
You might say my mum (a 56 year old Sickle Cell Individual) is an exception to the rule or that I am just living in some fantasy worl, but the fact is that things are changing for the best. Those days when people had a lifespan of 18 or 21 or even 30 years is fast becoming nothing but a myth that isn’t true. We can thank medicine for this but I choose to thank my creator.
From my research, I found out that statistically, depending on the type of sickle cell disease, the CDC lists the median life span as anywhere from a person’s 40s to his 60s. That said, there are currently people with sickle cell disease well into their 70s.
Richard Mitchell is a seventy-year-old man living with the sickle cell condition.
Ernestine Diamond is an eighty-three-year-old woman, living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). She is an advocate of the disease which affects millions throughout the world and is particularly common among people with ancestors in sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, India and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy and Spanish-speaking regions of South America, Cuba and Central America.
Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda, is believed to be the oldest sickle cell patient in the world. She celebrated her 90th birthday November 1, 2015, an achievement that is clearly in defiance of science. – See more at: http://bentelevision.com/asiata-onikoyi-laguda-defeats-science-as-the-longest-living-sickle-cell-patient/#sthash.ezH4EWhg.dpuf.
Now here is my advice to those like me out there, once you learn to take your condition in good stride, you too will live to a ripe old age like Ma Asiata and the other people mentioned above. Please know your bodies, take good care of yourselves and hold on to the conviction that you too will not die anytime soon.
Written by Timi Edwin
N.B: People with Sickle Cell die young, people without Sickle Cell die young as well. Death is well… death. Let’s live right while on earth.