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New life following fistula: Ayelech’s story

Each year, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia treats thousands of women who have suffered childbirth injuries including obstetric fistula, providing support and rehabilitation to enable women to get their lives back.

But our support doesn’t end there.

We are there for women who recover from fistula and go on to have another child – to provide them with specialist care, including safe, planned caesarean deliveries.


Ayelech, pictured with her new baby, is from Boricha zone in Ethiopia’s rural southern Sidama region.

She arrived at Hamlin’s Yirgalem Regional Fistula Hospital in October 2020, for the safe delivery of her fourth child by caesarean section.

Ayelech planned her delivery closely with Hamlin’s hospital team and was supported with transport to and from her village and high-quality care during her stay. Everything went well and her joy at her new baby was clear to see!

However, this wasn’t the first time Ayelech had visited Yirgalem.

Ayelech’s family are subsistence farmers, and at a young age she was encouraged to leave school to get married, which was common in her community.

She became pregnant for the first time at just 13 years old, and when the time came for her to deliver, she tragically laboured for seven days before suffering a stillbirth.

On top of this trauma, Ayelech told us that a week after returning home from the government general hospital where she had eventually delivered her stillborn baby, she realised something was very wrong. But she had never heard of fistula before and did not know what it was.

Ayelech told us that a week after returning home from the government general hospital where she had eventually delivered her stillborn baby, she realised something was very wrong.

Her husband supported her to return to the government hospital, where they referred her to Hamlin’s Yirgalem Regional Fistula Hospital for specialist treatment.

Ayelech was diagnosed with a double fistula and was immediately admitted to Yirgalem. She received treatment to prepare her for surgery, which was ultimately successful. She stayed at Yirgalem for a month to recover, before returning home to her family.

But this was over ten years ago.

At the time, the hospital team explained to Ayelech that if she became pregnant again, she would need to return to Yirgalem for a safe caesarean section delivery.

Which brings us back to today and this beautiful moment captured between mother and baby:

Ayelech and her baby
Ayelech with her new baby

Thanks to the team at Yirgalem, Ayelech now has three healthy children, and thanks Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia for changing her life.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Chief Surgeon Dr Yeshineh explains “For women that have recovered from fistula and become pregnant again, caesarean section deliveries are extremely important – to avoid the dual risk of a woman suffering another obstructed labour and her repaired fistula breaking”.

This Mother’s Day, please donate and help us to support more women like Ayelech with specialist care to give birth safely.


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