Monday, October 10, 2011


Biyana has a vesico-vaginal fistula that desperately needs repair. For over a year, she has not been able to urinate on her own. Instead, a constant acrid stench leaks from her body and clings to her clothes.

She cannot escape the shame. It haunts her day and night. 

The fistula formed after several days of obstructed labor ended in a cesarean. A few days after her surgery, she was discharged from the hospital --grateful to be alive but damaged.

Remarkably, despite her condition, she conceived again several months later.

When I met her for the first time, she was just starting her third trimester. But I didn’t know that at the time.

Since her baby was transverse, I measured her belly and guessed her to be only about 5 to 6 months gestation. But I was wrong.

A month or so after that, she returned in labor with ruptured membranes and a hand presentation.
It was hard trying to determine the best course of treatment --fistulas and hand presentations were new for me.

But after trying everything I/we could, I finally insisted her family get her the cesarean she needed. And they took her to Wau.

I later learned that she got the cesarean but never had her fistula repaired; they didn’t have the money for both surgeries.

At the time I was shocked to hear her baby had survived since I had assumed he was preterm. But her family said all was well, so I rejoiced with them.

A few months went by and I ran into her family and inquired after them both. They explained that the baby only lived two days. He died before she was discharged from the hospital.

She’s not yet 20 years old and yet she has lost two babies, had two cesareans, and is haunted by the stench of her own urine.

I pray for her regularly. I think of her all the time. I try to imagine the depths of her shame and loss... but I confess, I can’t.

My mind just can’t... 

So when a friend informed me of volunteer surgeons coming to do fistula repairs in Wau, I jumped at the opportunity.

It took me some time to get a hold of Biyana, but when I found her she was very interested in getting help. As we spoke over the possibilities, she explained that her husband left her after her second surgery. She hasn’t seen him in months.

She is hopeful at the opportunity but I can tell she seems skeptical. Nevertheless, she asked me over and over again, “Do not forget about me. Please help me. Remember me.”

Honestly, how can I forget? I can’t get her out of my mind... or heart.

When I contacted the surgeons though to set it up, I was told the fistula campaign was pushed to next Spring. They have more training and preparation work to do before they can pull it together. But they hope to be ready by February or March, and will start the procedures then. They promised to let me know if and when.

I know that it is many months off, but I feel the need to start praying now. Please pray for her to not grow weary while waiting... and for God to bring others like her our way. I know they must be out there. May He bring many more who need this help. May they get it.