Know Your Genotype

    • One of the main components of blood are red blood cells. Blood genotype refers to the type of haemoglobin present in an individual’s Red Blood Cells (RBCs). Haemoglobin binds oxygen in the lungs and give the oxygen off to body cells as blood travels throughout the body. This haemoglobin has different variants, and some variants such as the S and C can be detrimental to health when inherited. For the prevention of sickle cell disease, the need to know your blood genotype cannot be over-emphasized.  

      The normal haemoglobin is called A, while there are many other variants of the normal such as S, C, D, E , O, etc. The most common ones however are the A, S, and C. An individual has two copies of haemoglobin, having inherited one from each parent. Hence, there may be different combinatons of these haemoglobins in an individual depending on what he inherits from each parent. An individual’s genotype may therefore be AA, AS, AC, AD, AE, AO, SS, SC, SD, etc. Genotypes SS and SC are responsible for sickle cell disease. When an individual carries a copy of the variant haemoglobin, he or she must make sure that the marriage partner does not also have the variant haemoglobin. Hence, it is imperative that individuals know their blood genotype so they do not pass on the sickle cell gene to their offsprings.

      The hemoglobin testing can be done on newborns (newborn screening) , older children and adults. However, it is advisable that youths get their genotype done early enough to enable them make informed decisions about their marriage partners. It is imperative to know your genotype before you say “yes” to a proposed marriage partner or relationship partner in which there are chances of conception.

      The need for accurate determination of blood genotype cannot be over-emphasized in the prevention of sickle cell disease. Over the years several methods for the determination of hemoglobin types have evolved and  these include:

      1.      Electrophoresis method.

      2.      Point of Care Test kit (POCT)

      3.     High-Performance Liquid Chromatography(HPLC)

      Sickle Cell Hope Alive Hope Foundation (SCHAF) is poised at providing affordable and accurate testing. SCHAF is currently using the POCT kit and also does HPLC for confirmatory purposes if the need arises. The POCT is very accurate, it has been recommended for genotype testing by the WHO and has a lot of advantages over the conventional electrophoresis method and the sophisticated HPLC. These include;

      1. Affordability: It is much cheaper when compared to HPLC
      2. Less time consuming: It takes about 5 – 15 minutes to carry out a test.
      3. It can be employed in both rural settings since it does not make use of electricity and does not need any sophisticated equipment.
      4. It can be done at the bedside.

      Visit our laboratory at the address below for your genotype testing:


      Medical Genetics and Bioethics Research unit

      Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training

      College of Medicine,  

      University College Hospital,

      Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria