Successful surgery ends shame for E
By Ted Watts | Madagascar in Southern Africa
Performing the crucial surgery. Photos by SIM UK
Not many patients in Mandritsara, Madagascar, can’t find someone to accompany them to hospital. Most have a family member, or a good friend, who will cook, clean, change sheets and provide other personal care. But not E.
E has no one. She is completely rejected. She lives alone, and has done for many years.
Nineteen years ago, married and full of hope for her life and future, E went into labour in her village. Sadly, things did not go as hoped.
After three days, she at last delivered a baby who was already dead. Shortly after that, she started to leak urine, day and night. This is obstetric fistula.
Over the past 19 years, E has bravely made her way across the country on three occasions to have an operation for this horrible problem. Each time, her hopes have been dashed as the surgeries were not successful. Each time, her spirit was a little more bruised.
About three weeks ago, E came to us. She was cautious; afraid to hope, but so happy to hear that we would try to help her. We found a local lady who volunteered to look after her in hospital, and we planned the surgery.
E would need an operation via two approaches, including reattaching a tube between her kidney and bladder that was emptying directly to the outside world, and repairing a heavily scarred hole in her bladder. The operation ended up taking three-and-a-half hours. After that, the waiting began…
E spent 14 days in hospital, allowing everything to heal before we did a ‘dye-test’ to see if the repair had worked. E knew the routine — this was her fourth time — and she knew how much hung on the result of the dye test.
We went back to theatre to do the test. As she was waiting, E simply said to me, “Doctor, I’m afraid.” She knew how much the results of this test would set the direction for the rest of her life.
There was no leak.
As I told her the news, she broke down in tears — of joy, of relief, of pain after 19 long years of rejection. I cried too. Fistula surgery is a huge emotional roller coaster for the surgeon. Bearing the weight of the hopes of these ladies; sharing in their delight when they are healed; but feeling responsible if they are not — this is the lot of the fistula surgeon.
But that day, we all cried and praised God for his grace, because it marked the first day of a new life for E. A life where she is not ashamed to simply be somewhere; a life in which others don’t avoid her because of the smell.
E is already a believer. She knows that God has already given her a far more durable new life in Christ. But what a picture this day is of that greater new life, in which our shame is lifted, in which we are loved despite our sin, in which we have a family who will never reject us.
• Thank God for E’s healing.
• For God to bless this mission-centred medical ministry in Madagascar.
• That he will help Ted to lead in a Christ-like, servant-hearted way that blesses the team and brings glory to God.