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A Fistula - Rare in the Developed World

Usually, the passage of information and technology is from the developed to the less developed countries of the world.  This is a story of skills learned in the third world coming the opposite direction to help someone in the West.

In June 2009 Mrs Tonino-Heiden was pregnant with her second child and decided to have a home delivery.  She had an experienced midwife with her but in spite of all their efforts, it was one of those rare occasions when things just didn't go well.  The baby was stillborn and the mother developed a fistula.

She went to several doctors in Austria but no one was able to help her.  They didn't have the necessary skills.  Finally, she found the website of our German partners through Google and she telephoned them.  She was worried that she would have to travel to Ethiopia to be treated but the Trustees in Germany put her in touch with Professor Wacker in Bruchsal, who has done more fistula surgery than any other doctor in Germany. 

He saw her in September 2009, operated and in a few weeks, she was sent home fully cured.  Coincidentally, she was being treated at the time that Catherine was awarded the Right Livelihood Award so the two stories caused a lot of media interest.

In the 1980s, Prof Wacker spent two years in Burkina Faso working with fistula patients.  Now based back in Germany, he travels every year with a team of doctors to Burkina Faso to treat fistula patients.  He has also collaborated with doctors from the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

To read the German newspaper article, click here.  The article and photo are halfway down the page.





This site was last updated 20/10/10