John Kelly and the fight against fistula
Your donations will help continue the work John embarked on more than 40 years ago. He operated on women with fistulae all over the developing world, including in hospitals run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMMs) in Uganda and Nigeria.
Without appropriate emergency obstetric care, obstructed labour can leave a woman with chronic incontinence and, in most cases, a stillborn baby. The mother may even lose her life.
Obstetric fistula occurs disproportionately among poor girls and women, especially those living far from medical services. Aside from the impact on health, there’s the equally devastating social stigma. The smell of leaking urine or faeces, or both, is constant and humiliating. Surgery can normally repair the injury.
John worked with the MMMs to establish fistula 'camps': periods during the year when women suffering from fistulae could come to the hospital for repair. Patients stay at the hospital for around two weeks, during which time they can recuperate away from the exertions of their everyday lives and be monitored. All women who undergo repair are given a new dress and money for their transport home.
John was convinced that surgery was not the long-term answer, and was keen that communities should be educated to seek medical help for women in labour. Training local midwives and surgeons also formed part of his work with the MMMs. He hoped for a day when he could open the door and see no more women waiting for fistula repairs.