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FUNDED June 11 2013 – Thank You!
In the West, complications during childbirth are immediately treated by skilled doctors and surgeons. In Ethiopia, obstetric fistulas ‐ the most devastating of all childbirth injuries – can mean a life of pain and suffering or death for a young mother.
Since 1974, Dr. Catherine Hamlin has provided medical care for women in Ethiopia, striving to give them vital access to lifesaving healthcare. Every year, approximately 2,500 young mothers receive free fistula repair surgery at the Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital or one of its five regional hospitals.
The hospital’s 95% success rate following surgery involves comprehensive care for these women who have suffered childbirth injuries. Ethiopian and expatriate doctors work together and the organization also works to train midwives in the hope of preventing future injuries and insuring safe, live, healthy birth for every mother and child.
Often patients arrive at the hospital suffering from other medical ailments. The hospital offers them treatment and nursing care for malnutrition, anemia, parasites, skin conditions, and more serious problems such as TB, malaria, or kidney failure. If necessary, they pay for their patients’ referral to other specialized clinics.
Many of the women journey from remote villages for treatment and stay for several weeks at the hospital.
During the recovery period, teachers who offer literacy classes in the main languages of Ethiopia to the patients. They also give these young women basic health education. Both pre- and post-operatively, the women have the opportunity to learn embroidery, knitting, basket-making, and other crafts. Many will use these skills after they return home to help their own families.
Because women who suffer fistula are often ostracized or isolated in their villages, their lives improve dramatically after the operations as they are accepted back into their communities.
The 2011 documentary, Lighting A Candle, followed Dr. Hamlin and showed how her work impacts the women of Ethiopia today:
Photo of Dr. Hamlin by Lucy Perry, provided by Hamlin Fistula USA.
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