Tales from the grave: What you should know about blood groups and Rhesus factor [Pt III]

by Odia Iyoha

This is a continuation from What You Should Know About Blood Groups and Rhesus Factor Part I and Part II where we saw the importance of knowing our blood groups and Rhesus factor in case of an emergency.


Story 2: The Wicked Queen Mother

Olori Olaitan walked down the stairs shouting as loud as her voice could be heard while clapping her hands. One would think she was having a very heated argument with her rival, but that was not the case. The shouts were for her daughter-in-law, Princess Wemimo who is married to the crown prince of Lebelebe kingdom. Her offence? Princess Wemimo just had another miscarriage, her third miscarriage since she gave birth to their first and only child, Princess Adetoun. She has also had a stillbirth in the past, due to Erythroblastosis Fetalis (an anemic condition in which the red blood cells –*erythrocytes – of a fetus are destroyed in a maternal immune reaction against it as a result of a blood group incompatibility between the fetus and mother) and Hydrops Fetalis (a condition in the fetus characterized by an accumulation of fluid/edema in the prenatal heart.)

Ever since she gave birth to Adetoun, she had not been able to carry any pregnancy to full term. This was a very big problem for her. Olori Olaitan was very desperate for a male child who would be the heir to the royal seat. It was tradition in Lebelebe kingdom for every sitting king to pass on power to the first male grandson from the crown prince (usually the first son) while the father of the new king will now be conferred the title of ‘Digi Oba’, a position believed to be higher than even that of the king because no decision can be taken in the kingdom without the knowledge of the Digi Oba; even the sitting King has to consult with his father, the Digi Oba before a law or new rule can be passed. Such has been the practice in Lebelebe kingdom and not once in history did they have to consider what happens if the crown prince is unable to birth a son. But that was about to change and Olori Olaitan had been fighting hard so it would not happen.

In Lebelebe kingdom, it is the tradition that if a crown prince cannot produce a son, his rights to the seat of power should be transferred to the son of the immediate younger brother of the king who has a son already. Time was fast running out on them and Olori Olaitan did not want the power meant for her son to be given to his cousin, Prince Aderopo, whose mother, Princess Dehinde is her arch enemy. Their feud dates back to their days as young maidens. In fact, Princess Dehinde was betrothed to be married to the then Prince Oyebiyi Sijuade, now Oba Oyebiyi Sijuade of Lebelebe kingdom but Olaitan, who was at that time his secret love interest pulled a fast one on everyone and fell pregnant for the Prince, few weeks to his coronation as King. This act led to a bitter feud between the two friends, Olaitan and Dehinde who swore never to agree on any issue ever again. Dehinde later married Prince Adeleke, the King’s jolly good brother and close associate.

The Olori was more infuriated that her husband, King Oyebiyi was not bothered about the situation on ground. He seemed to even be happy that his nephew would become the Digi Oba, a position he knows his son Prince Adesegun never looked forward to occupying. Prince Adesegun had plans to relocate to Geneva, Switzerland to take up a position with the World Health Organization because of his interests in research and public health. What infuriated Olori Olaitan more was the fact that her son also seemed much unperturbed and had refused her orders, pleas and cajoling to take a second wife who would produce a male child for the royal seat.

Prince Adesegun and young Wemimo met as undergraduate students in one of England’s best Universities. He majored in Public health while she was a Law major. Upon his graduation, he and his father Oba Oyebiyi had a very serious fight when he indicated his interest to move to Geneva to build his career on research, a move which the king was against. Oba Oyebiyi had always known that his son never had interest in the throne, even before he got a scholarship to study in the UK. He didn’t force anything on his son because he knew he always had his moments of regrets too. Many times, he had reasoned that the kingship was a hindrance to some of his dreams which could not be accomplished due to his position as the leader of a big kingdom. His only annoyance with Prince Adesegun was that he didn’t have plans of coming back to the kingdom after his education so he pleaded with him to come back for some time to use his experience and gained knowledge to develop the kingdom especially in the health sector, after which he can return to the UK to chase his dreams. Prince Adesegun agreed to come back only for a short time. He returned with his longtime University girlfriend. He had made up his mind to marry her but he wanted his father’s blessings first so he brought her along and married her in a very big ceremony which was graced by several dignitaries from far and wide.

Within five years of his return to Lebelebe kingdom, a lot of things were transformed. The hospitals were upgraded to world standard, the kingdom had more good road networks to neighbouring kingdoms, the schools were upgraded to world standard, a new higher institution was built; Lebelebe kingdom was given a new face, all thanks to Prince Adesegun who gave contracts out to capable hands and firms to rebuild the kingdom under the watch of his father, Oba Oyebiyi and grandfather, the Digi Oba.

Princess Wemimo fell pregnant two years into their marriage and having gone to a hospital in England for medical tests to confirm their compatibility, they discovered that though they were not entirely compatible, the situation could be managed during pregnancy. Princess Wemimo’s blood group came out as O- while that of Prince Adesegun was revealed to be O+, a revelation which was more of a bad news. The Doctor advised them on the necessary steps to take during pregnancy and informed them of the importance. Prince Adesegun, being a public health expert and in the health field already knew about Rhesus factor incompatibility so he assured the Doctor that they would adhere to the instructions given. So, when Princess Wemimo fell pregnant, Prince Adesegun made sure she registered early for antenatal care and made sure she never missed an appointment.

On the day Princess Wemimo was supposed to go to the hospital for an important injection which any pregnant woman with Rh D negative blood married to a man with Rh D positive blood has to take, Olori Olaitan picked up a quarrel with her. Olori had not for once liked Princess Wemimo because she had wanted her son to marry the daughter of her best friend and confidant, Laraba. Mama Laraba was the one who advised Olori to get pregnant for the then Prince Oyebiyi because a crown prince was forbidden to marry any other woman, whether she is his betrothed or choice if another woman he is not betrothed to is put in the family way by him. Olori Olaitan had sought the counsel of her friend then when the prince revealed to her that he could not marry her because he had been betrothed to marry her friend, Dehinde. Her friend had told her what to do so that he would marry her instead of Dehinde and their plan worked out fine. In appreciation, Olori had promised her friend that their children would marry each other when they came of age. When the Olori could not get Laraba to marry her son, she poured her anger on Princess Wemimo at the slightest opportunity she got.

That fateful day, Princess Wemimo was on her way to the hospital when Olori visited. Prince Adesegun had gone on an official assignment to a neighbouring kingdom. Olori picked a quarrel with the heavily pregnant Princess Wemimo but a very tired Princess Wemimo didn’t reply and instead turned to go and sit down; the Olori feeling insulted dashed towards the retreating Princess and landed two successive slaps on her back, an action that sent her sprawling on the floor. She went into an early labour immediately and her domestic staff helped her to get to the hospital. She was delivered of Princess Adetoun at the seventh month of her pregnancy without getting the injection she was supposed to be given at twenty-eight weeks. That day marked the beginning of her miscarriage woes and the Olori’s karma.

Princess Wemimo’s troubles didn’t last for a long time because Prince Adesegun later got his appointment letter from the World health organization headquarters in Geneva where he relocated to with his wife and daughter, Princess Adetoun. Prince Aderopo became the Digi Oba after the demise of Oba Oyebiyi while Prince Aderopo II, the son of Prince Aderopo the first became the King of Lebelebe kingdom.

Princess Wemimo never had any other biological child but she adopted two more children and committed the remainder of her life to causes bothering on child and maternal health, creating awareness on blood grouping compatibility and setting up medical facilities in impoverished communities in Africa.

*Erythrocytes = immature red blood cells.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Tales from the grave is a medical series on the potential killer Rhesus Factor Incompatibility

Odia Iyoha is a Content Creator, Word Processor and an unaffiliated Content Writer. Her interest in writing was ignited after she received special recognition for her article on Refugees for the Royal Commonwealth Society in 2008.

Odia hopes to use writing to tell fictional and nonfictional medical stories and reorient the minds of people away from the thought that many lineage diseases or illnesses are some sort of spiritual afflictions and not medical. She lives in Lagos State where she is attending College to qualify as a Dental Surgeon.

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