Screening for sickle cell and beta thalassaemia

Interview 06

Female
Age at interview: 24

Brief outline: During first pregnancy couple discovered they were both sickle cell carriers. CVS confirmed the baby did not have the condition and was not a carrier.

Background: Student, single (partnered), in first pregnancy. Ethnic background/nationality' Black African.

Audio & video

When the couple were thinking about having a baby, the male partner, who is a doctor, decided to have a screening test, as there were people on both sides of the family who had sickle cell anaemia. By the time he got his results and found he was a sickle cell carrier, she was already pregnant. She also went for screening, and was shocked and upset to discover she was also a carrier. 

For a long time she was very uncertain what to do, but eventually decided to have CVS to know for certain whether the baby was affected. Her husband felt more strongly than she did about the need to find out and was very worried about how much the baby would suffer if he or she had sickle cell anaemia. She did not think as a Christian she could ever terminate the pregnancy, but living with the uncertainty was very difficult. 

The CVS itself was not too painful, but the doctor was not very sympathetic, and her husband felt faint and could not stay in the room to support her as he had hoped. It was an anxious time waiting for the results and worrying about the risk of miscarriage from the procedure. She was so worried she could hardly eat or drink. She became dehydrated and was admitted to hospital. It was a great relief when the CVS results showed the baby did not have sickle cell anaemia, and was not a carrier, so at the time of the interview they were looking forward to the baby's birth. 

She would have CVS again another time to be able to prepare. She personally would not consider termination again, but thinks it is important for people to know they have a choice. The couple felt well advised and supported by their sickle cell counsellor, and felt they had all the information they needed to make their decisions.

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