Sunday, October 21, 2007


Bed 1, K.O., is a RVF/VVF patient who was here in August. At that time her RVF (rectal vaginal fistula) was repaired but we were unable to operate on her VVF (vesico vaginal fistula) . She had surgery on Friday to repair her VVF.

Dr. Steve is back on the ship. This is the third time he has been here since June. He is A Mercy Ships regular and I am a Dr. Steve fan. Last time he was here I was able to sit down with him and listen to the story of how he became involved with VVF repairs pre-Oprah/Bradgelina. It's a very interesting story that accompanies a very interesting man. But that's another blog entry.

For two weeks Dr. Steve is performing VVF repairs, most of which are "redo's"; patients who had surgery before but their surgeries failed. It's the last chance for these ladies; their final hope.

K.O. is only 21. Her chart tells her familiar sad story;
1 pregnancy
1 delivery
16 years old when fistula was formed
Child stillborn
Labor for 4 days
never married

Her injury was severe, scoring a 5 on a baseline assessment that Mercy Ships performs at screening days. A score of 0-3 gives a woman an 85% success rate while a score of greater than three offers only a 40% chance. The odds were against her.

Yesterday, K.O. was leaking and completely soaked her bed. After getting her to turn and move around the bed so I could change her sheets I noticed the corners of her eyes began to glisten. I stopped and sat next to her on her bed. Gently I stroked her head and held her hand and let her cry. The people of Liberia have all been through so much personal trauma that many have never had anyone to cry with; the feeling being that they have all been through hell and what makes your hell any worse than mine?

My heart sank as I watched K.O. cry. I wanted to cry for her (I almost did). She did not want to leak anymore. She didn't want to be embarrassed, ashamed, and ostracized. She wanted to have other children and be married. She was only 21 and the odds were against her.

After about 15 minutes and several tissues K.O. stopped crying and fell asleep. Today, she is lying on her stomach and not leaking as much. We are all praying that her body heals; that she beats the odds.

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