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Mulu’s story: strength and new beginnings

When Mulu woke up, after being unconscious for two days, the last thing she could remember was being brought to a government hospital from her village; her labour in her remote rural home in Ethiopia had been obstructed for four days, with no midwifery support.

As she gained her focus, she realised the hospital bed she was lying on was soaked, and her baby was not there.

Tragically, for Mulu’s baby, eventually delivered by caesarean section by the government hospital, it was too late. To compound this, due to the prolonged obstructed labour, Mulu had also developed a fistula and was incontinent.

After I woke up, I found myself lying on a soaked bed and asked the nurses to take me to the bathroom. On my way I felt a strange feeling of unable to control urine. At first the nurses told me that it might be a discharge due to my traumatic labour and it should stop afterwards, but that didn’t happen. I knew I was incontinent and at that point I wished I had died with my baby, rather than living with this”.  

The government hospital immediately referred Mulu to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, and her father supported her to travel the long journey from their village to Addis Ababa for surgery at Hamlin.

A challenging journey ahead

However, Mulu’s journey with fistula was to be a long one. She had developed severe damage to her bladder during her labour, and as with a small number of patients each year at Hamlin, it was not possible to cure her fistula in the first surgery.

Mulu was supported to have a number of operations, which improved her condition, but sadly it became clear a complete cure was not going to be possible.

Mulu, who had shown huge patience and strength, and Hamlin’s team of specialists did not give up. In early 2021 Hamlin’s team began a conversation with Mulu on diversion surgery to give her a urostomy (stoma) bag. Mulu knew this would mean a big life change, and she was counselled and supported to make her decision.

In March 2021 Hamlin’s new diversion surgery specialist Dr Wondwossen delivered surgery to Mulu, and finally, her incontinence was over.

Before the actual surgery I went through all the necessary steps of counselling and treatment and everything was done based on my willingness. In those long years I lived with fistula I was in the worst physical and mental place I had ever been. Look at me now – I am the happiest woman in the world!

“I have become completely free of incontinence and can walk around with confidence and dignity. I cannot thank you enough all the staff here in Addis Ababa and those around the world who support this work. Believe me you all are doing the best deed. Thank you.”

You can support more women like Mulu to have life changing surgery by donating today.


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