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The heartbreaking impact of prolapse: Saphecho’s story

Saphecho, 50, lives in a remote rural area of Southern Ethiopia, in the Yirgacheffe coffee growing region. Devoted to her family, she has worked as a housewife and supported her husband in subsistence farming all her life, to grow food and care for livestock, to feed and nurture her family.

Saphecho had an arranged marriage as a young woman and over the years gave birth to nine children. Tragically she lost three of her children, and six survived into adulthood.

In many communities in Ethiopia, the more children a family has, the higher its social standing and protection within the community. So many women, like Saphecho, experience repeated childbirth, without a break.

The heartbreaking impact of prolapse

Saphecho first developed signs of prolapse on the birth of her fourth child, and then lived with untreated pelvic organ prolapse for a staggering 25 years. She told us:

“It was on my fourth delivery that I felt the prolapse and I had five more deliveries with it. At first it looked small but afterwards it became heavy and visible and I developed a serious problem in urinating. My prolapse ruined my married life and eventually I separated beds with my husband until he passed away in sickness later.”

The loss of her husband compounded Sapecho’s pain, and with her children grown up and having left home, when Hamlin’s community patient identification team first met Saphecho she was in a poor, lonely and heart-breaking situation. She told us;

“I live alone and am economically poor, I had never searched for a cure until you found me and brought me to the Hamlin hospital. I never thought that I could get cured. I believed that death would be the only thing that separated me from this lifelong problem.”

A new start and the road to recovery

In April 2022 Saphecho was identified by Yirgalem Regional Fistula Hospital’s community patient identification team. She was provided with transportation to come to hospital for free treatment and just one week later had surgery that ended her 25 years of suffering.

When we met her at the hospital, Saphecho was getting ready to be discharged and go home.

Now thanks to you here I am a free woman ready to face life’s challenge by myself without any worry. I wish I had known you earlier, but I still feel so happy and now I am ready to begin life again. Thank you.”

Saphecho standing strong, before she returns home, cured from her pelvic organ prolapse

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