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“It’s Something You Have To Think Through Ethically”: Dating And Family Planning As A Sickle Cell Trait Carrier

“So, what are your deal breakers?”

It’s a question I always try to ask pretty early on if I’m getting to know someone for the purpose of dating. When he’s told me his, I share mine. It eliminates the possibility of unpleasant surprises at a later stage when I’m already headfirst in my feelings. I remember once ending a relationship because my partner didn’t have any intentions of moving to London and I had no intentions of moving out of London. Awkward. 

It’s helpful to know your deal breakers. Common ones are about religion, politics or children. One of mine is if he has the sickle cell trait. And that’s because I have it too.

According to the Sickle Cell Society, one in 76 babies born in the UK have the sickle cell trait. Having the trait – being a carrier – means that you can pass the trait on to any child you have. But if the child’s other parent has the sickle cell trait as well, this could result in sickle cell disease. 

The odds if both parents have the sickle cell trait are as follows: for each child you have there is a one in four chance the child will have no trait, a two in four chance the child will have the trait (i.e. 50:50) and a one in four chance the child will have sickle cell disease.