After a year of waiting, a young lady can now live a normal life again after a successful vaginal fistula operation, which took place last week at Hope for Women International Hospital in Paynesville. The operation was the first of its kind for the hospital.
Speaking to the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview, Hope for Women’s founder and proprietress Dr. Wilhemina Jallah said the 25 year-old out of rural patient had to wait for a year for her wounds to heal before attempting the operation.
A vaginal fistula results from cases when a child is held in the delivery position for too long, which results in the death of the child from suffocation, and cause a breach in the connection between the vagina and other organs.
Dr. Jallah said the young woman’s case was the result of vesicovaginal fistula, a vaginal fistula that opens into the urinary tract or bladder. “This would cause urine to seep out through the patient’s vagina. The fistula that opens into the rectum, rectovaginal fistula, causes feces to come out of the vagina. Both are devastating for women,” she said.
Research has shown that vaginal fistula is very common among pre and adolescent girls when obstructed deliveries damage the connection between organs. “These children are certainly too young to have kids as their bodies are not properly developed to handle the pain and time of delivery,” added Dr. Jallah.
In some developing countries where women have no health care nearby, vaginal fistulas are much more common. After days of pushing a baby that does not fit through the birth canal, very young mothers can have severe vaginal, bladder, or rectal damage, sometimes causing fistulas.
A vaginal fistula is painless. But a fistula lets urine or feces pass into your vagina. This is called incontinence – and it can cause soiling problems that cannot be controlled.
Dr. Jallah said the young lady was referred to her hospital after a year suffering from and waiting for the tissues from her vesicovaginal fistula to properly heal before the operation.
“Usually the women do not have the money to do C-Section (Caesarean Section), which would prevent fistula. I was just informed that we had this case and had to do it. It’s our first!” she said.
Dr. Jallah said that Hope for Women International Hospital did not perform fistula operations in the past because the hospital is not equipped with enough beds to handle the cases. She, however, applauded the efforts of hospitals across the country dedicated to fistula, with volunteer staff to handle these cases, the fistula awareness campaigners and the donors that support these initiatives.
She said vaginal fistula does not have to be fatal, depending on early intervention.