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Obstetric Fistula

Equipping Doctors in Nigeria for Life-Restoring Surgeries

Surgical supplies from Direct Relief arrived at Evangel Vesico Vaginal Fistula Center last month, where doctors performed dozens of fistula repair surgeries.

Medical staff from Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria, receive a shipment in March, 2019, from Direct Relief, outfitting doctors with surgical tools to repair obstetric fistula. (Photo courtesy of OFSTAR Project)
Medical staff from Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria, receive a shipment in March, 2019, from Direct Relief, outfitting doctors with surgical tools to repair obstetric fistula. (Photo courtesy of OFSTAR Project)

Last month, 53 women received a life-changing surgery at the Evangel Vesico Vaginal Fistula Center in Jos, Nigeria. That’s where a team of doctors worked inside the center’s operating room to repair patients with fistula, a childbirth injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Fistula leaves a hole in the birth canal, causing uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces, and women with the condition are subject to social ostracism and stigma, unable to participate in the social fabric of their communities.

Among the team of doctors conducting the surgeries was Dr. Ene George, a board certified female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon. Originally from Nigeria, Dr. George came to the United States in the 1990s and now works in Southern California with patients needing reconstructive surgeries.

She often returns to Nigeria to help women recover from the devastating effects of obstetric fistula, and returned in March with a medical team from her foundation, the OFSTAR Project.

Medical staff from Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria receive essential medical aid in March 2019. The shipment, which included items like sutures and needles, was sent to equip health personnel providing life-restoring surgeries for women who suffer from birth-related injuries. With support from the Obstetric Fistula Surgical Therapy and Rehabilitation Project, a volunteer medical team dedicated to supporting healthy mothers, Evangel Hospital performed 53 surgeries last month over the course of two weeks. (Photo courtesy of OFSTAR Project)
The medical team working on fistula surgeries last month included (back row, L to R) Dr. Sunday Lengmang, Cletus Swende, Dr. Ene George, Albert Goyil, and in the front row, Simon Khantiok and Stella Amadikwa.  (Photo courtesy of OFSTAR Project)

The team worked at the Evangel VVF center, which is a refuge for women with fistula that not only provides surgical repairs, but also provides women with emotional and psychological support to re-enter society along with new life skills to become economically independent.

Dr. George and the OFSTAR Project offer aid and support to the existing facility and their permanent staff for their ongoing fistula repair program. For their March trip, Direct Relief provided a shipment of surgical supplies to support the fistula repair surgeries.

“The Center now has several hard to come by supplies, especially the surgical sutures, to work with for a long time to come,” Dr. George said.

OFSTAR’s visit also fell on Evangel’s Fistula Center’s 27th anniversary and coincided with this year’s International Day of the Woman. With the Nigerian hospital staff and Dr. Georges’s team, the celebration was not only a reunion for those that have benefited from the ongoing work at Evangel’s VVF Center, but also for the providers that dedicate their life’s work to helping those most in need.

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