I would have named him Edwin…
September 18, 2019
was filled with love and joy as she was about to become a first-time mother. She was
hopeful for the future of her child, her husband and her growing family. As the
due date was getting closer, she became more nervous and silently concerned for
the health of her baby.
was nervous because in her country having a baby is not always a joyous moment.
It is not always the celebration it should be. In Merina’s country, Nigeria, it
is far too common for a fistula to occur and the baby to die.
A fistula occurs when an
unborn baby’s head puts too much pressure on a mother’s maternal tissues,
cutting off the blood supply. The tissue dies and leaves a hole (fistula),
which causes urine and sometimes faeces to leak uncontrollably.
was a Sunday. My husband took me to the health centre. However, the doctor was
not there, just a nurse. I stayed at the hospital the whole day. I was in
really great pain by then, but nothing happened. I couldn’t feel my child
moving. I couldn’t even get up anymore …” As
the doctor had not arrived, staff decided to take Merina to the next town for
no longer felt pain, I just felt my full womb. My baby had not moved again. I
had stopped thinking … The bus arrived hours later. The villagers helped me
onto the bus. Four hours later we reached the District Hospital …” Once at
the hospital Merina was examined and taken to the theatre. The doctors
immediately performed a caesarean section.
should have been one of the happiest occasions for Merina soon became her worst
told me that my baby hadn’t lived, that it was a boy and that he weighed 3.7
Merina’s voice dropped to
a whisper as I heard her next words…I was so sad. I would have named him Edwin.”
they removed the catheter, the doctors saw that I had a fistula. Still they
sent me home and told me to come back after three months when the wound of the
caesarean section had healed completely. During that time, I constantly dripped
urine. I smelled bad. I was so ashamed. I had lost my baby. I lost all my joy.
I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t have any hope…”
Left untreated, fistula
can lead to chronic medical, social and psychological problems, such as
isolation. They are often excluded from daily activities. Many women live with
the condition for decades, unable to access the medical care that can help them
and change their lives. In places like Africa, obstetric fistulas are often left
unaddressed due to lack of obstetric care.
Today there are 500,000
women in Nigeria, just like Merina, who are diagnosed with fistula. Many more
women are at serious risk as they prepare for the birth of their baby. Prevention
is the best treatment.
The compassion and
support of generous CBM supporters has already helped thousands of women in
impoverished countries such as Tanzania receive the vital maternal healthcare
they need. This success has pushed us forward to develop a program that, with your
support can transform healthcare for women in Nigeria.
is a strong, dignified and courageous woman. But she and many women
like her, through no fault of their own and because of poverty, are unable to
access proper maternal healthcare. Merina and the women of
Nigeria need your help.
Merina went back to hospital three months later, a doctor there told her about
a rehabilitation program that provided life-changing surgeries for women with
would once again have dignity and strength, would once again be hopeful of the
future. For she was not alone.
“There were so many other women. Up to then I had
thought I was the only one with that condition. But no, all these women had had
similar experiences. I talked to them. Many had lost their baby, too. Those
conversations helped me grieve.”
We are focused on delivering a three-year program
dedicated to expanding our fistula program across Nigeria. Your support right
now can provide:
- Better maternal healthcare delivered
through partnerships with medical teams, hospitals and health clinics;
- Greater awareness, education and support
of maternal and child health services including Fistula prevention;
- Training for community healthcare
providers, including clinical monitoring and support visits.
Your help can give women like Merina back
their dignity, reduce the stigma and isolation they can experience from
fistula, and help them on the road to recovery.
Your donation will not only change a woman’s life but can
save the life of a mother and her baby. A mother like Merina and her son – the
son who she would have named Edwin. Donate today: https://my.cbm.org.au/mumsmatter
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