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Extraordinary Care and Love: Zinash's story

Zinash's story transformed from struggle to joy through the extraordinary care and love of the staff at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. For Zinash, being referred to a Hamlin fistula hospital was life changing, and the care she received would end her suffering from fistula once and for all. Living in a small rural town in southern Ethiopia, Zinash’s story highlights the importance of access to quality maternal health care in preventing and treating obstetric fistula.

The importance of health care throughout pregnancy

As her town had relatively good access to health care and educational facilities, Zinash attended school until she got married and began to start a family. Greatly concerned for the health of herself and her children throughout pregnancy, Zinash and her husband followed professional advice and received care at their local medical clinic throughout the pregnancies of their three children. Zinash also went to the government hospital in her hometown to deliver her children.

Zinash patient and baby6 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

A devastating childbirth injury

It was during the delivery of her third child that Zinash encountered obstetric fistula. As she had done with her previous pregnancies, Zinash knew that she was entering labor and headed to her local hospital to deliver the baby with the assistance of trained medical staff.

Due to several delays, Zinash stayed in the hospital for almost an entire day. Through surgery, Zinash gave birth to a healthy daughter - however the prolonged labor resulted in obstetric fistula injuries. These injuries were unfamiliar to Zinash, as it was her first time hearing of fistula.

Zinash patient and baby4 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

Recognizing Zinash had suffered a fistula injury, staff at the local hospital told her about the treatment available for her childbirth injury at Hamlin. The hospital staff felt confident in recommending Hamlin as they understood the specialized and holistic treatment available for fistula patients at Hamlin's six regional fistula hospitals.

Zinash was advised to recover at home for three months before seeking treatment at Hamlin; she recalls these three months as an incredibly difficult time in her life. “I felt ashamed and shocked by the situation I faced. I didn’t believe that I would be cured - even after the hospital staff told me about Hamlin's fistula hospitals. The three months I dealt with fistula were as long as three years. I became aggressive and grouchy, even with my children,” she says.

Zinash patient and baby2 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

A cure once and for all

Following her time recovering from the birth of her daughter, Zinash arrived at Hamlin’s Yirgalem Fistula Hospital with her husband and newborn baby. Zinash received a cure for her fistula injuries after just two weeks at the hospital. “I never expected such an extraordinary care and love. This hospital means a lot to us, especially for poor rural women who have no one to help. We are blessed to have your hospital in the region,” says Zinash.

Zinash patient and baby3 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

Providing a cure for every fistula patient

Zinash’s story shows the importance of being referred to a Hamlin fistula hospital after a woman is identified to have a fistula injury. Hamlin is working to educate more communities about fistula and the treatment available to Hamlin fistula hospitals through our Patient Identification Program. By identifying women suffering from fistula and referring them to Hamlin to receive care, we can prevent the extended suffering of women experiencing fistula.

Additionally, teaching people about the dangers of obstructed labor and recognizing when to seek medical help plays a significant role in ensuring women do not develop fistula in the first place. The work the local hospital staff in recognizing Zinash’s injuries and referring her to a Hamlin hospital ensured that she had timely access to treatment and support. For Zinash, her fistula injuries were cured entirely with one surgery that, in some instance, can take an hour to complete.

Zinash patient and baby5 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

The work of local hospital staff in recognizing Zinash’s injuries and referring her to a Hamlin hospital ensured she had timely access to treatment and support. For Zinash, her fistula injuries were cured entirely with one surgery that, for some, can take no longer than an hour to complete.

Zinash patient and baby | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

One surgery changed Zinash’s life forever. Help us offer support to more women suffering from obstetric fistula in Ethiopia by making a donation today.

Written by Anna Norden, intern at the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.

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All rights reserved 2020 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 and images have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.