Malela’s Story

Case Study

Malela is 16-years-old, from a small village in Western Tanzania. When she was 15, Malela married, became pregnant for her first child, and developed an obstetric fistula. She had never heard of fistula before she went into labor.

Her labor began at 10am, but her husband told her to wait before she sought help. She slept through the day, and the next morning a traditional birth attendant (TBA) visited her at home. She examined Malela, and estimated the baby would be born normally in a few hours. After a full day of labor, the TBA told Malela she needed to go to the hospital.

Malela  was taken to a nearby health center for delivery. She lost consciousness during the delivery, and her baby was forcibly delivered by forceps. When she woke, she remembers feeling her flat stomach, and asking her mother “where is my baby?” Her mother replied “Your baby died. Now we are working on your urine leaking problem.” Malela never saw her child.

Malela was examined at three different health centers, and was told by staff at all three that they couldn’t repair her fistula. At the third center, she met a CCBRT ambassador who referred her for fistula repair at CCBRT. She was given bus fare via MPESA, and a travel companion to ensure she arrived safely at CCBRT.  Her fistula surgery was on February 19, 2015.

Malela’s husband and family have been fully supportive of her. When asked what she will do when she is dry, she hopes to return home to live with her husband, work through the farming season, and train to become an entrepreneur.

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