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A baby girl after fistula: Enku's story

“They [Hamlin hospital staff] took my happiness as their happiness. When I gave birth to my child, all of them were very happy.”

Enku2 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Enku lives in a small rural village called Midakeya. She has three children and was eagerly looking forward to the arrival of her newest baby. With no access to qualified medical professionals, Enku prepared for another home delivery assisted by village elders.

During an excruciating four-day labor, Enku sustained a complex obstetric fistula injury. As there was no transport in her village, her family carried her on a traditional handmade stretcher to the nearest health center. Tragically, her stillborn baby had to be removed by surgery. Enku’s bladder had also ruptured.

Hope for a cure

Due to the severity of her injuries, Enku was referred to the local hospital where staff told her about Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

Enku3 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s partnerships with local health bureaus, health care providers and communities are changing the reality for women with fistula. The condition is recognised earlier and women are referred to Hamlin’s fistula hospitals sooner. This prevents women from suffering for years, sometimes decades, without knowing there is a cure.

Enku told us: “The people who work here [Addis] take care of me very well. I could not move my hands and could not stand by myself. I did not move properly and could not use the toilet. I leaked and I smelled bad. But the people here accept me with all my deformities. I stayed here for a long time with other women who had the same problem.”

With the help of “these good people”, Enku received physiotherapy for four months to regain her movement before receiving life-changing fistula surgery after eight months. She made a full recovery and returned home to her family.

A new life begins after fistula

Enku is one of few fortunate women who was able to fall pregnant after the trauma of a fistula injury.

She was overjoyed when she realised she was expecting a baby girl. Just eighteen months after she had left Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Enku was welcomed back for the safe caesarean delivery of her daughter.

Enku4 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

“I am very lucky to have conceived this baby after all the unforgettable and painful injuries. I gave birth to a girl and they gave me nutritional food to make me and my child healthy. They do all the necessary requirements to make me comfortable and happy in my pregnancy,” says Enku.

Did you know that Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia encourages all former fistula patients to return to a Hamlin Fistula Hospital when they become pregnant after their fistula injury has healed?

Every woman can deliver her baby via a caesarean section free of charge, thanks to the support of people like you.

Enku is so grateful for the loving care and support she received from everyone at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa hospital. She says: “I thank all the hospital staff for accepting me back happily. They take care of me, just like a mother and a father. I am very happy now.”

Read more about Hamlin’s world-renowned fistula treatment program.

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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.