I have never seen a sickle cell patient that is ugly; we are all beautiful, strong and very intelligent people.
Dr Adeyemi Olusegun, a consultant haematologist with Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), says people living with sickle cell disease need love, support and understanding from people around them to enjoy full life.
Dr Adeyemi Olusegun
Olusegun said on the sidelines of an event organised by the Paediatrics Department of JUTH, on Thursday in Jos, to commemorate the 2022 World Sickle Cell Day.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Media Initiative for Sickle Cell.
The consultant, who survived sickle cell anaemia for over 30 years, while narrating his ordeals, said that he was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia when he was five years old.
Olusegun said he lost care and attention immediately his mother died.
According to him, he had it tough in secondary school and during his university days, but thanked God who kept him alive.
"I was diagnosed with sickle cell when I was five years old and I have been living with it for more than 30 years.
"My early life was okay because I had a caring an understanding mother who take care of me and ensure I take my medication as and when due. She also made sure I didn't miss my doctor's appointment.
"But the turning point was she died; I was 11 years old and that is when I began to experience series of crisis because that care and attention has gone.
"My father sent me to a boarding secondary school and that was a serious challenge for me; it affected my academic performance because my condition did not allow me to concentrate.
"I was hospitalised for three months because of complications. I was away from school at that period and it affected by my academic journey," he said.
Olusegun also narrated how he nearly missed his final examination at the medical school because of his condition, but had to take deliberate steps in managing his crisis anytime it occurred.
"It was not easy at the university, but because I was little a bit grown and understood the triggers, I took very care of myself and avoided things that could trigger my crisis.
"Even at that, I had one crisis that made me nearly missed my final examination and because I didn't want to wait for another six months or even repeat the class, I managed and sat for the examination but with serious crisis.
"After graduation, I came to JUTH for my residency programme and I went through three times the stress I had in the university.
"Again, my superiors during the residency were patient, understanding and supported me till the end," Olusegun said.
He advised parents to show care, love and support their children suffering from sickle cell anaemia to achieve their dreams in life.
"I have never seen a sickle cell patient that is ugly; we are all beautiful, strong and very intelligent people.
"So, parents, don't look down on your children because of their condition; they can aspire to be anything in life. So, support them to achieve their dreams.
"Today, I am a doctor because I got the support of my late mother, family members and other people I met throughout my journey in life," he said.
The father of three, seized the opportunity and thanked his wife for her support and understanding, and called on spouses to support their partners who are sickle cell patients.