Rhesus factor and marriage

Intending couples should be made aware of the importance of rhesus factors in marriage.

I shall be explaining this using an incidence that took place in Amasiri,a town in South East Nigeria many years ago.

Dibia Okaka,the octogenarian mediator between the culturally conscious people of Amasiri and Ali,the earth goddess was a slow talker who had a way with words. He is not known for wasting words. He was about the tallest man in the hilly agricultural village with broad shoulders,a scarred mind and face from the Biafra war and sunken eyes that had seen much.He despised much of what those eyes had seen. He would later maybe because of what those eyes had seen extract himself from the gene pool. The reason he killed himself is not known to this day.

Draped in white lappa that had seen better days and supported by a walking stick which also serve as his staff of office,he was accompanied on this afor market day to the home of Mazi Dike by his stool bearer.He had earlier been to Nkechi’s house to divine the cause of her fourth consecutive miscarriage after her last and only child.

He was on a mission to carry out the cleansing rituals that would precede the burial of Mazi Dike’s cursed child-an ogbanje-a changeling.Kolanuts were broken and kai-kai poured in libations to Ali,the beautiful and good goddess who still administers fair justice in Amasiri and other parts of Igbo land-she rewards each person accordingly in the here and here-after.

The unfortunate dead changeling was lacerated and taken to òtùtù eja to be left at the mercy of vultures or buried in an unmarked and shallow grave.This is the final abode of the rejected of the society-an initiate to the ogo cult who sleeps with a kinsman’s wife,people with swollen stomach on their death,men who had sex with men and people who had carnal knowledge of animals.

This is the practice in Amasiri to this day.

Never.again.would the cursed child return to grief the parents.Ali and the husband,Amadioha would ensure this.

This was the belief in Amasiri many years ago.Ignorance has since given way to knowledge.

Nkechi’s numerous miscarriages and Mazi Dike’s dead changeling could have been due to Rhesus disease

Rhesus disease occurs when a pregnant woman’s body makes substances that regards her unborn baby’s red blood cells as a threat and therefore destroys it. These substances made by the mother’s body are called antibodies.It is as a result of the presence or abscence of a protein on the surface of some people’s red blood cells.These proteins are called rhesus factors.It is so called because it was first discovered in Rhesus monkeys.

People who have this protein on the surface of their red blood cells are said to be Rhesus-positive and people who do not have this protein on the surface of their red blood cells are Rhesus-negative.

It is important that intending couples know their Rhesus status before going into marriage.Ideally the man and woman should have the same rhesus status. Rhesus disease does not harm the pregnant mother but can can destroy the unborn babies red blood cells especially from the second pregnancy causing anemia,jaundice characterised by yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye,brain damage and even death.

A simple blood test can be used to determine whether a person is rhesus positive(Rh+) or Rhesus negative(Rh-).
Each blood type using the ABO blood grouping system has a plus or minus sign after the letter of the alphabet.The plus or minus sign using the ABO blood group system is indicative of the presence or absence of the rhesus factor on the surface of their red blood cells.People with blood groups O+,A+,B+,AB+ are Rhesus positive while those with O-,A-,B-,AB- blood groups are Rhesus negative.

Rhesus disease or Rhesus incompatibility occurs when a pregnant woman’s (Rh-) blood mixes with the blood of her (Rh+) baby during pregnancy.This can happen if there is bleeding during the pregnancy,when the baby’s lying position is feet-down instead of head-down and an error occurred durimg the process of trying to re-adjust the breech baby’s position.

Miscarriage which is when an unborn baby dies between the fifth month of pregnancy and ectopic pregnancies where there is implantation outside the womb can also cause rhesus incompatibility where the mother is (Rh-) and the baby is (Rh+).

Blood groups showing rhesus factors
Blood types with rhesus signs

When this happens, the mother’s body ministry of defense(Immune system) would invite all the body’s arm forces(antibodies) for a showdown with the invader(unborn baby’s red blood cells).The baby’s red blood cells unfortunately would not survive the onslaught for long leading to anemia with its attendant brain damage and even death.

A test to determine whether a woman’s body is making Rhesus antibodies should be done during the first trimester and during delivery.

An injection,a popular brand called Rhogam® is given at 28th and 34th weeks of pregnancy and within 3 days of delivery,abortion and miscarriage to prevent the woman’s body from making antibodies that would keep destroying the baby’s red blood cells especially from the second pregnancy.

Maybe all Nkechi and Mazi Dike’s wife needed was a shot of Rhogam® injection.

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