Meet our First Patient

Posted in Featured

Our first fistula patient Rael Rono is assumed to be approximately 60 years old. She had a successful fistula repair surgery sponsored by Hope for Fistula. She lived with an Obstetric fistula for 37 years, since the birth of her first child in 1975. Mrs. Rael Rono husband was very supportive over the years, until he became deceased recently. He was a pastor and a God fearing man who could not bring himself to chase her away despite her condition. Social stigma, which is one of the many debilitating effects of fistula, is something Mrs. Rono is all too familiar with. For THIRTY SEVEN YEARS she could never sit close to her sons, close to fellow parishioners in church or close to anyone else for that matter. The first surgical treatment completed at Jamaa Hospital was not successful and in fact was a traumatizing experience which left Mrs. Rono with an embarrassing side effect. After the initial surgery, even simple tasks that required bending over, created anxiety and distress, since air would enter through the fistula hole and would be loudly expelled when she straightened up; the sound was akin to loud farts or diarrhea sounds.

Hospital CheckoutDuring an interview with Mrs. Rono, she shared an anecdote about an event at her local church which brings to light the stigma and lack of awareness about Obstetric Fistula. Mrs. Rael Rono first heard about the fistula treatment during an announcement in church. A fellow parishioner declared the announcement was irrelevant because no one could possibly suffer from such a condition.

Fistula is a stigmatizing condition and those who suffer, do so in silence; no one wants to be identified as having the condition or wants to associate with those who suffer from the condition. One can see why it is possible for Mrs. Rono’s fellow parishioner to make such a declaration. According to Mrs. Rael Rono, there are very many women in her home area who suffer from this condition and are afraid to speak out. While it is difficult to ascertain what ‘very many’ means, what we know is that for those living with the condition, they are suffering in silence.

Our goal is to continue working with community members like Mrs. Rono to identify fistula patients and provide them with access to fistula surgery. JD is doing well and is fully recovered after the successful surgery. She is extremely grateful that she can now rejoin her community and church as an active member and no longer relegated to the role of a mere bystander. Mrs. Rael Rono’s story brings to light the suffering and shame fistula patients live with day to day. We hope that by sharing with you Mrs.Rono’s story you are encouraged to take action and support Hope for Fistula in our efforts to restore dignity to women living with Fistula.

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