Sunday, 8 January 2017

Agony of Nigerian couple misled into marriage by wrong lab test

A family in Lagos is today experiencing the pain and bitterness of a wrong medical laboratory test result. The outcome of it has caused joy to take flight from the home of Mr Johnson Odogwu and his wife, Candice (real identities concealed), and cast a dark cloud over the couple’s marriage.

The foundation for the trauma that has beset the family was laid in 1997, when Johnson, as a young man, did a laboratory test that indicated his genotype to be AA.

About nine years later, in 2006, he married Candice. After they announced their intention to wed, the parish of the Roman Catholic, where they both attended as members demanded to know their genotypes. Johnson presented the test result given to him by the laboratory while Candice also went for a test that showed her genotype to be AS.

Based on these results, the church allowed them to marry as there was no medical ground to forbid them, given that they could not have children with sickle cell disease.

For eight years, the couple contended with delayed conception. However, the yoke of childlessness was broken in 2015 when their first child, a boy, was born. Then, he became sickly after the first year, to the point that he needed blood transfusion. As it is routine in medical practice, laboratory tests were conducted to determine his blood group and genotype and the results showed the little child to be sickler.

Dumbfounded, the parents demanded a second test, which confirmed the first result. It was then decided that both parents be tested to find out their genotypes. When Candice was tested, the result also matched with the earlier one she had done prior to the wedding.

But for Johnson, it was not so. His own test result showed that he has “AS” genotype contrary to what he was made to believe in 1997. Another test done in a different laboratory further confirmed his horror.

“I am finished,” Johnson had screamed in agony, when he was told the result of the confirmatory test.
 With bleary eyes, he told Sunday Sun reporter:
 “What I feared most has happened to me. My marriage is threatened. I have heard about the pains of people living with sickle cell disorder (SCD); I never imagined it could happen to me; now my first child and only son is a sickler. My family members and in-laws are not yet aware of the development; I wonder how they will respond when they hear. We are really confused and devastated.
“Before our marriage, my wife and I discussed our genotypes. While my wife was AS, the genotype test I did in 1997 showed that I was AA. Even the church where we wedded was very serious about it. But we relied on the earlier tests, not knowing that there was error in mine. So after our marriage and the birth of our son, the boy fell sick in June 2015, warranting blood transfusion. When his blood group and genotype tests were done, the results showed him to be SS.”
He continued:
“The result surprised us; so the doctors decided to do confirmatory tests for me and my wife, which surprisingly showed that we were both AS. We knew about the implications and would not have married since we were not under pressure. But now, if we separate and abandon our child in this condition, who will have the emotional attachment to take care of him,” Johnson wailed.
“If I marry another woman, would she be able to take care of the boy or if my wife marries another man, would he be patient to take care of another man’s sickler son. Only God can save us.”
While Johnson is ruminating over what has befallen him, a healthcare professional and medical laboratory technician at a popular facility in Surulere, Lagos, who spoke with Sunday Sun reporter under condition of anonymity confessed that he once committed such an error due to pressure of work.
“When I collected the blood samples from the patients, I wrongly labeled the containers and that was how the results came out wrong. But I later realized the error because the patients use our hospital as their family clinic, so I had to repeat the genotype tests,” he explained.

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