Couple Ends Engagement After Finding Out They Carry Gene For Thalassemia Blood Disorder
A marriage engagement usually signals a new chapter for a couple, one in which they will start a new life together.
Sadly for one couple in Malaysia, theirs was not to be.
After learning they both carry the gene for a blood disorder called thalassemia, they decided to end their engagement.
Their future offspring would have had a high chance of inheriting the disorder, and they did not want to pass on that burden.
Woman finds out she carries thalassemia gene after engagement
On 27 May, Malaysian doctor Farra Diana announced on Twitter that she had broken things off with her fiancé, Dr Ashraff.
She shared a heart-wrenching conversation they had prior to their split, in which they reiterated their love for each other.
Despite already being engaged, they had to end things after she found out she carried the thalassemia gene.
The discovery was made after Dr Farra underwent a screening, which she did “just to be safe”.
As for Dr Ashraff, he had informed her early on in the relationship that he has the thalassemia gene.
This meant that if they got pregnant, the child would have a 25% chance of being born with thalassemia major.
This form of thalassemia can lead to severe anaemia that requires lifelong blood transfusions and cause stunted growth, according to the National Library of Medicine (NIH).
Doctor couple doesn’t want to take risk after caring for children with thalassemia
Apart from the elevated risk of thalassemia major, Dr Farra and her ex-fiancé’s decision to end their engagement also came from firsthand experience with children with the condition.
In a separate tweet, Dr Farra shared that they had seen many children who were dependent on blood transfusions while working in their hospital’s paediatric department.
She recalled having to conduct blood tests on them every night, and how they lamented about being this sick through no fault of theirs.
Following Dr Farra’s discovery of her thalassemia gene, the couple discussed for months on what they could do next.
Unfortunately, Dr Ashraff ultimately decided to call things off, saying that they should not be selfish and think about their future children.
They then came to an amicable agreement that ending the engagement was the best way to go.
Malaysians suggest alternatives to help couple move forward with wedding
Dr Farra’s story tug at the heartstrings of many Malaysians, who jumped in to offer ways to help the couple’s love story move forward.
Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Mohd Faizal Bin Ahmad advised that there are many couples with the thalassemia gene who have gone on to conceive healthy children through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
He added that the treatment has been available in Malaysia for a long time.
As such, he said, he can lend a helping hand if the main issue keeping the couple apart was children.
Others also recommended the couple to adopt instead.
In response to all the suggestions, Dr Farra said that she chose to stay silent for some time while taking in everyone’s discussions and solutions.
She revealed that after they found out they both had the gene, they had already explored every possibility.
In addition, she reiterated that the 25% likelihood extended to every pregnancy, instead of one out of four children.
As she and her ex-fiancé are both doctors, they would also have little time to care for a child if they turned out to be thalassemic.
While adoption “sounds nice”, Dr Farra questioned whether it is wrong to want to bear a child of her own.
She then ended the thread by emphasising that marriage is for life, and should not be entered into halfheartedly.
A selfless decision that is no less heartbreaking
Letting go of someone you want to spend your life with is no easy feat, especially for reasons out of your control.
We commend Dr Farra and Dr Ashraff for having the courage to forsake their happiness for a noble cause.
Although their journey together may end here, we hope they will find their own happy endings in due time.
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