Sickle Cell Trait Confusion: Is It Deliberate? Or Is This Ignorance?

I speak with authority as one who was born into a Sickle Cell Disease home within a Sickle Cell Trait country. One in every 5 of us in southern Ghana including nurses, doctors, business men and women, judges, liars, thieves, university professors, Parliamentarians, athletes, crooks, footballers, Olympic Medallists, and boxers has the Sickle Cell Trait.

In Northern Nigeria with a population of 90 million there are 30 Million Sickle Cell Traits. One in every three babies born there in Kano, Sokoto, Maedeguru is Sickle Cell Trait. And in Accra where I worked at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital every 1 in 5 babies of the 13000 consecutive deliveries we tested in 12 months had Sickle Cell Trait.

What is more, 1 in every 3 of the white people in Greece where Lake Kopais used to be is Sickle Cell Trait! And now, lo and behold, “In Fontana August is Sickle Cell Trait Prevention Month”. Are they serious in suggesting Sickle Cell Trait needs preventing? Making 1 in 5 of us Ghanaians feel guilty for being born because we are Sickle Cell Trait? Even Sickle Cell Disease Patients need not feel guilty because they often have brilliant genes that their siblings do not possess.

Seriously, believe me, there are two kinds of readers of this Facebook post:

(1) Those who want to learn from me whom Nobel Laureate Professor Linus Pauling listened to when I delivered the Martin Luther King Award Lecture in Philadelphia on the Topic “The Vital Difference Between Sickle Cell Trait and Sickle Cell Disease”, and

(2) Those who prefer what Fontana teaches on Sickle Cell Trait.

For those who have time for me, please set time aside and study the following articles very, very, very carefully:

SICKLE CELL TRAIT

  1. Blaming sudden death on Sickle Cell Trait? http://bit.ly/1Eutn19 
  2. Sickle Cell Trait Misinformation and Disinformation http://bit.ly/1CqYHib
  3. Further Communication on Sickle Cell Trait Misinformation and Disinformation and Sickle Cell Terminology: Disease  or Disorder?          http://bit.ly/1Gm4gNP 
  4. World Sickle Cell Day 19h June 2014 http://bit.ly/1FuNXPi 
  5. Beware of symptomatic sickle cell traits. Lancet, February 29, 1992, page 555. http://bit.ly/2d18oOL
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PII0140-6736(92)90377-F/fulltext
  6. Dangerously flawed diagnosis of sickle cell trait in compartment syndrome rhabdomyolysis http://bit.ly/2d4t9Zd
    http://www.sicklecell.md/blog/index.php/2016/09/dangerously-flawed-diagnosis-of-sickle-cell-trait-in-compartment-syndrome-rhabdomyolysis-article/
  7. Sickle Cell Trait: As with statins when leading editors disagree please give principles same weight as details/
    http://www.sicklecell.md/blog/index.php/2016/09/statins-when-leading-editors-disagree-please-give-principles-same-weight-as-details/
    http://bit.ly/2dy5fUJ
  8.  http://bit.ly/2bRQ7B1    Tafracher BMJ 8th June 1975

This Ghanaian word Tafracher allows me to call a spade a spade, as it were. [It allows me to say articles describing Sickle Cell Trait as Sickle Cell Disease are (Tafracher) rubbish for how can a Sickle Cell Trait man run at 7000 ft at Olympic Games and beat the whole world with a disease?] 

If you absorb all this information you can help your colleagues and even your doctors in saying exactly what Sickle Cell Trait is, and what it is not.

Felix Konotey-Ahulu FGA MD(Lond) FRCP(Lond) FRCP(Glasg) DTMH FGCP FWACP FTWAS Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, University Cape Coast Ghana, & Former Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor Sickle Cell & Other Haemoglobinopathies, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra Ghana, and 9 Harley Street London W1G 9AL [ www.sicklecell.md ] Twitter Felix@profkonoteyahul

Further BMJ Links especially for doctors, nurses & science graduates.

  1. Overseas Med. Graduates bmj.com/content/356/bmj.j574/rr-0
  2. Routine Tests not to be abandoned bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2091/rr-15
  3. BMA AGM 2017 On Abortion bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j3116/rr

Finally, Sickle (S) is not the only aching gene we can be born with. The second commonest abnormal Haemoglobin aching gene is “C”. Test for “S” alone (Sickle Cell Test) is not enough. I always test for other genes, not just for Sickle Cell Trait. You can be Sickle Test Negative (that is No “S”) and yet be “C” Positive, enabling you and your Sickle-Positive-”S” spouse to have a child who has two aching genes “S” + “C” to produce Hereditary Rheumatism (Sickle Cell Disease), never ever to be called “SC Trait”, but only to be known as “SC Disease”. Sickle Cell Trait is “AS”, never “SC”. I was born surrounded by both. I know the difference.

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3 Replies to “Sickle Cell Trait Confusion: Is It Deliberate? Or Is This Ignorance?”

  1. Please tell me – Can a person with sickle cell trait, given certain circumstances that would cause someone with sickle cell disease to start cycling, have instances where their blood sickles, given those circumstances, like high-altitude, lack of oxygen, dehydration, over exertion and etc.? Are you saying this can NEVER happen to someone who only has the sickle cell trait?

    THank you.

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  2. Exactly, Odella, that is what I am saying. True Sickle Cell Traits (One abnormal gene) NEVER have sickle cell crisis like those with Two abnormal genes. You will find that many doctors are calling people with sickle cell disease (two abnormal genes) sickle cell trait (1 abnormal gene S plus 1 normal gene A). The commonest mistake is to write Sickle Cell Trait as SCTrait but “SC” is never Trait – it is disease (2 abnormal genes S plus C). If you or someone you know has been called Trait and have been suffering sickle cell crises, then ask the doctor to do Electrophoresis to measure all Haemoglobin Fractions, and they will find that there are TWO abnormal haemoglobin genes, not just ONE as in Sickle Cell Trait. Read the articles again on ,my web site. And remember, my own parents were Traits (1 Abnormal gene each). They had 11 of us children: 3 had disease (2 Abnormal genes), 4 of us were Trait (1 Abnormal gene), and 4 had no Abnormal gene. Traits have won Gold Medal at 7000 ft Mexico City, beating the whole world. A recent article in a leading World Medical Journal describing a pilot with rotten muscles after flying only took the pilot’s word “I have Sickle Cell Trait”. Not even a Sickle Cell Test was done, let alone Haemoglobin Electrophoresis, but the famous Medical Journal went ahead and published the article. Nor was G6PD Test done to make sure there was no Deficiency which is known to produce muscle problems. There is a Sickle Cell Trait Doctor today in 2018 aged 97 years. He used to play International Hockey for Scotland.

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