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A decade of suffering: Emama's story

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 2 women experience POP, usually following childbirth. In countries like the United States, this condition is easily treatable. Some women may even be unaware that they have it, with a routine pap smear highlighting their condition. And, with early detection and access to quality healthcare, many women will achieve good outcomes without the need for surgery.

In countries like Ethiopia, however, where women may live with POP for years and even decades, the condition poses a much greater threat. Left untreated, their condition can lead to Advanced Stage Pelvic Organ Prolapse which can be life-threatening, resulting in a range of complications including kidney infections.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

POP is when a woman’s pelvic floor muscles are weakened, allowing the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, to descend into the vaginal canal. Advanced stage POP is when one or more of these pelvic organs protrude, causing significant discomfort, pain, and disruption in daily life. Surgery in these cases is essential.

20160603 MC 595 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Emama lived for 10 years with POP

Emama is 60 years of age and has lived with her condition for far too long. She said: “I felt ashamed to tell anyone what had happened, even my husband. I separated beds with him and tried to manage it by myself but the problem has been my everyday worry for the past 10 years.”

Fortunately, she was able to access treatment Hamlin’s Bahir Dar Fistula Hospital. For Emama, the free surgery changed her life: “Thank you for curing me and giving me a happy ending to the rest of my life.”

Treating childbirth injuries at Hamlin Fistula Hospitals

In addition to obstetric fistula repair, all six Hamlin Hospitals offer a range of gynecological treatments to women, including advanced POP surgery.

As our Project Zero teams travel the country in search of women living with historical cases of obstetric fistula, they are also identifying those with POP, and referring them for what is often life-changing treatment.


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All rights reserved 2023 Catherine Hamlin Foundation (R) (ABN58159647499)
Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is fiscally sponsored by KBFUS (EIN582277856) and KBF Canada (RCO769784893RR0001)

Photography credits to Cameron Bloom, Nigel Brennan, Mary F. Calvert, Kate Geraghty, Amber Hooper, Joni Kabana, Johannes Remling and Martha Tadesse.

Patient names have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.