Tuesday, May 8, 2012

VVF Dress ceremony for a lady with Darren's blood

First thing first - a little explanation of what VVF is and how it destroys ladies' life in Africa:

"Vesicovaginal fistulas (VVF) typically happen when a woman suffers through a long, obstructed labor. In western countries, almost all women in danger of developing this condition are able to have a cesarean section. VVF practically unheard of in western countries, is rampant in developing countries. Fistulas happen when an obstructed labor and delivery inhibits adequate blood supply to the pelvic region, damages nerves and tissue, and creates a hole where there was none. The baby typically dies, while the mother is left with a fistula that causes incontinence, continual leaking of urine and/or feces, and other physical problems. Nerve damage to the legs can also make walking quite difficult. These women are often abandoned by their families and shunned by society. Alone and in isolation, these silent sufferers typically hide from community activity and social interaction, they often live in hiding, believing that no cure is possible.

Exact figures for VVF and RVF prevalence are unknown because of the stigmas associated and due to the hidden nature of women affected. The World Health Organization estimates that there are at least two-million women living with fistula worldwide and that another 50,000-100,000 new cases occur annually. In Togo, a country with just over six-million people and an annual birth rate of 36 per 1,000 people, there are an estimated 432 to 648 new cases of fistulas per year. 

During a six week schedule, we plan to perform 68-78 surgeries to repair fistulas. Along with these surgeries, Mercy Ships will provide spiritual, emotional, and physical care for these women, helping prepare them to rejoin their communities. Before going home, each woman receives a new dress and participates in a celebration to rejoice in their new lives without fistula."

Ladies arriving in their new dresses for the celebration.
This year's pateints came from the northern part of Togo. For the many women who live with an obstetric fistula, accessing the immediate medical and surgical care needed is extremely difficult due to remote locations, lack of medical facilities, and financial constraints. Since they came from far-far away we housed them in the Hope Centre. It was very encouraging for the ladies to see many others with similar conditions - to know that "I am not the only cursed one" as they sadly often belive. Some patients actually cringe when caregivers draw near because it has been years since they last felt human touch.

The Lady in Red is the one who received Darren's blood
Once onboard the Africa Mercy, surgery is performed under spinal/epidural anesthesia or other sedation in a safe, hygienic, well-equipped operating room. Extensive procedures may require general anesthesia.

You cannot have a proper African celebration without drums, dancing and singing...

Lady with Darren's blood thanking God for restoring her life!
Each lady is given a Bible and a small gift with the dress.

Another life saved, another hope restored.

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