For women in Africa who experience long or difficult births, they often suffer from birth trauma that leaves them incontinent, leaking urine or feces uncontrollably. Because of their condition, they then become outcasts in their community — losing friends, jobs, sometimes even their husbands.
It is for these women that Dr. Shannon Potter, an OB/GYN from the U.S., donates her time and expertise. She has spent a significant amount of time performing life-changing surgeries for women all over Africa, most recently in the town of Vanga, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
There, armed with an ample supply of high-quality Ethicon sutures and special surgical needles from MAP International, she and a medical mission team operated on 49 women who were suffering from a variety of severe fistula cases.
One of her patients was a woman who had been suffering for 29 years after doctors performed a symphysiotomy during her long labor, an outdated surgical procedure in which a woman’s pelvis is broken apart at the cartilage in order to expedite a delivery when a cesarean section is not feasible. Here is her story in her own words:
“I was expecting a child and for a whole week I had labor pains, so I was taken to the hospital after having already labored in a health center. And I delivered a boy and the urine started to pour out of my vagina, but my son was killed mysteriously.
“Now it has been 29 years that I’ve had this sickness. After having it, I started to be uncomfortable. I couldn’t stay in the community because I smelled like urine. I avoided the church because I was wet just sitting down, and even my business I could no longer do because I was not going to be received well knowing that I would dirty their chair or their bed.
“My husband heard the news on the radio and we came. After this operation, I think that this time I will be healed and I have not had any more leakage of urine this time. It is a good thing. I will be able to get my life back and I will be happy.”
Thanks to MAP supporters, Dr. Potter had the supplies and medicine she needed to perform life-changing surgery and give hope to the women of Vanga.