Debora’s Story

Case Study

At Kupona, we speak a lot about obstetric fistula, or fistula that is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without access to emergency maternal healthcare. However, this debilitating condition can sometimes be caused because of an external injury.

For Debora, a 32-year-old woman working as a house keeper in northern Tanzania, it was a serious accident that changed her life dramatically.

One morning, Debora took a bodaboda (motorbike taxi) to work. The vehicle was hit by a car, and Debora’s pelvis was broken and her bladder damaged. She went to the nearby hospital, but doctors there did not have the capacity to treat her; she had to be transferred to another facility in Dar es Salaam. Hours later, she arrived at the hospital, and was rushed to the operating theater.

“My private parts were badly wounded,” she says. “When I looked at myself, I said ‘I am no longer a woman’. I was so much in pain.”

After one month, Debora was discharged and went to live with her sister in law. She had to use a catheter, and could not stand up or walk. After six months Debora could walk but she couldn’t have sex with her husband any more, and soon realized she couldn’t control her urine. The impact on her body felt like a nightmare.

Life became very hard at her sister in law’s house, and Debora and her husband were struggling financially, so Debora moved in with her aunt. One day, she woke up to find she had wet the bed. Her aunt was furious, and shouted “Are you a baby? Why are you wetting the bed?” “Those words were very painful,” Debora remembers. “I was very confused. I decided to go back to the hospital.”

At the hospital the doctor told her she had fistula, but Debora had never heard of fistula before. The doctor gave her CCBRT’s phone number, and Debora was invited to come to CCBRT Disability Hospital for treatment.

“Before I came to CCBRT, I did not have the courage to ask for the treatment prices because of my financial status,” she says. “But when I came to CCBRT I was overjoyed to know I can receive treatment for free! I am so thankful for the surgery I have just received; it went very well. I cannot express how joyful I am!”

After making a full recovery, Debora hopes to have a small restaurant where she will cook food and sell fresh juice.

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