Firoza’s story begins at an incredibly young age. Firoza was just nine years old when her parents married her off. At age 15 she became pregnant for the first time and was unaware that she should see a doctor to receive antenatal care. Firoza was in labor for eight days. The traditional birth attendant nor her parents realized that she was in great jeopardy of losing her baby’s and her own life. The moment the baby was born still, the traditional birth attendant left Firoza, a scared young girl with complications and the sadness of her stillborn child. Her husband had not come for the delivery, and upon hearing that his child did not make it, he filed a case against Firoza’s parents, claiming they were to blame for the death of the child.
Firoza was suffering from both stool and urine incontinence. A stay in the Chittagong Medical College afforded Firoza the opportunity to have preparative surgery for her fistula. Unfortunately, it was solely the stool incontinence that ceased, and she continued to suffer with the urine incontinence. It was a blessing that Firoza could receive her second surgery for fistula at HOPE Hospital free of charge, as the poor woman, now 25, could never afford the payment for two surgeries. The doctors who worked with Firoza are optimistic that one day Firoza will be completely healed. She is now living with her brothers and earning her own living. As she is so young, she truly has her entire life ahead of her. Unfortunately, Firoza requires additional surgery and care as the second surgery was not successful. This is common with women who have complicated cases, especially in girls who are incredibly young delivering their first child. HOPE and Firoza are dedicated to a full recovery and a bright future for this young woman.
Nur Ayesha– A Repaired Obstetric Fistula Sufferer:
Forty years ago, Nur Ayesha first noticed the urine incontinence. A woman from Ramu, Cox’s Bazar, she was deeply suffering from this complication. It was caused by obstructed delivery. Nur Ayesha gave birth at home, as most all women in this rural area do, and was attended to by a traditional birth attendant. Lacking proper medical attention, she was in labor for six days! Nur Ayesha took every initiative to find relief. Throughout the process she was hospitalized at several hospitals but they lacked an experienced surgeon to perform the surgery. Ayesha’s husband left her believing she was a cursed woman. Her neighbors gave the same reaction. After forty long years of suffering, she was referred to HOPE Hospital and a surgery was performed. She did not have any hesitation to be treated at this hospital and took the services into her full confidence. Today, Ayesha is completely cured and is following all the instructions of the surgeon. She is very keen to work in her community to let other fistula sufferers know that this is curable. She is a happy woman now!
Imtiaj Hossen Babu “ A Cleft Survivor:
Imtiaj Hossen Babu was born with cleft lip and cleft palate and he required surgery. Babu is the second of three children living in the outskirts of Cox’s Bazar town on a hill with a risk of having their house demolished by the landslide during monsoon at any time. It was obvious the family was unable to pay for his vital surgery. A team from HOPE foundation visited Babu at his home and came to know about his present condition and his parent’s lack of a plan regarding his deformity. Due to our efforts, Babu’s parents were educated about the cleft lip and palate surgery camp at Hope hospital and registered their child; they continued to keep themselves in touch with the HOPE hospital officials. Imtiaj Hossen Babu was one patient treated by Dr. Aziz during his visit. At age four, his lip is finally repaired. Babu needs another surgery for the deformity of his palate. Still Babu cannot speak. He will undergo surgery for his cleft palate in a second phase of surgery and reconstruction. His parents are very hopeful that their child will be able to live a happy life with a lovely smile. Follow Imtiaj’s success story; we will update you after his second surgery!- report from HOPE Hospital
Anjuma Khatun– Cleft Role Model:
Anjuma Khatun, an 18 year old refugee from Myanmar, was born with congenital deformity of her lip without any ancestral history of such deformity. Her parents believed it was caused when her mother cut something at the time of lunar or solar eclipse when she was expecting Anjuma, as superstition is rampant when medical knowledge is unavailable.. For the last eight years she has been living in Bangladesh due to the violence and instability Myanmar poses for families like Anjuma’s. For the last three years she has been living in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. The deformity was profoundly disturbing and embarrassing for Anjuma. Camp minors mocked her, which made her life in the refugee camp unbearable. Anjuma was alone, and faced everyday with despair. Anjuma’s parents had been hoping to find a way to surgically correct the cleft ever since she was born. In the refugee camp, Anjuma discovered information about the cleft camp sponsored by HOPE Foundation and Smile Bangladesh. Anjuma’s doctors, MSF Holland (Doctors without Borders) arranged registration and travel for Anjuma and her family to come to HOPE Hospital for surgery. The operation was a success, and Anjuma looks beautiful! She and her family are happy and free from the anxiety and burden that was haunting their everyday lives. They have returned to the refugee camp, and Anjuma is dreaming of a new life of exciting possibilities. Anjuma’s family plans to return to Myanmar when the situation in her home country is more stable and secure, allowing for their return.
Sanowara Begum– Free of Fistula:
When 18-year-old Sanowara Begum suffered a medical complication during the tragic loss of her firstborn child from intrauterine death, she could not have imagined the next seven years of frustration, distress, and emotional pain she would have to endure. Sanowara, now 25, of Cox’s Bazar, developed a vesicovaginal fistula, a condition that caused continuous seepage of urine. The condition and the resulting unpleasant odor made her unwelcome to neighbors and visiting relatives, and deprived Sanowara of the happy conjugal life she desired. Sanowara sought medical care for her condition, but everywhere she turned she found frustration. She saw doctors, had examinations and followed their advice, but nothing worked. In 2006, Sanowara went to large hospital in the City of Chittagong for help, but left without informing the doctors, because she could not pay for the treatment. She tried a private hospital in Cox’s Bazar, but once again could not afford the expensive treatment. Seven years of failed attempts to get the help she needed left Sanowara miserable and helpless. Then, she found HOPE. She hesitated at first, but contact with HOPE hospital officials and doctors encouraged her, and she finally got the surgery she had needed for so long. She is now free to live a normal, full life. Sanowara hopes to work in the garment industry and become self-reliant, to shoulder some of the responsibilities of her parents, brothers, and sisters with whom she has been living. Sanowara is so grateful to her family who assisted her during her seven years of physical and emotional pain, and as she is now healthy, she plans to support them in every way she can.
Jolchina– Successful Obstetric Fistula Patient:
Fourteen years ago Jolchina became pregnant with her first child and enlisted the help of a traditional birth attendant, as all of her neighbors and family members do. During labor Jolchina felt something was wrong and asked the attendant if she should seek care at a hospital. The attendant replied “no, everything is fine”. Jolchina was enduring obstructed labor for three days before the attendant finally agreed she should go to the hospital. At the hospital they performed an emergency cesarean section to remove the already deceased child. The urinary incontinence began a few days after her surgery. Jolchina became pregnant again and gave birth to a little girl, even while suffering with the fistula. That delivery was also an emergency cesarean section and the doctor performed an ovarian ligation. The doctor at that time informed Jolchina’s husband that they should not come into physical contact because of her fistula; her husband divorced her immediately, taking her only daughter.
Jolchina came to learn about HOPE’s fistula program from another patient who was successfully cured of her fistula at HOPE. She felt optimistic that if her friend is repaired, then maybe she too can be. She was operated on by HOPE’s Fistula surgeon Dr. Biswas, and her first surgery was a success! As Jolchina is remarried, she wants very badly to have a child. Dr. Biswas will perform the complicated surgery of reversing the ligation, at an appropriate time after recovery, to hopefully enable her to bear a child. She is looking forward to a life without incontinence and becoming a mother again.
Nur Begum became pregnant for the first time and as her friends and family have done before her, she employed the help of a traditional birth attendant. After going into labor she found she was in great pain. The traditional birth attendant told her she was fine and she endured obstructed labor at home for four days. After the fourth day the traditional birth attendant recognized the birth was complicated and left poor Nur by herself. She convinced her husband to take her to the hospital where her baby was born still. That is when the urinary incontinence began. She has been suffering like this for 8 years. Due to the foul smell her husband took a second wife and lives with the second wife. Nur lives alone in the house she once shared with her husband, alone. Her friends and family stopped visiting her because they said they could not take her foul odor. She received her first fistula surgery and is feeling much better. Now that she is feeling better she wants to live at her Father’s house but her husband forbids it. She says she is grateful that she is at least feeling better and hopes things will change for her soon. Her spirits are very high.
When Senowara was just 13 she was married off. When asking her mother why she married so young her mother replied, “It was our luck”. Senowara’s family was poor and they paid her husband 1 Lakh (the equivalent of over $1,500 USD) to marry Senowara. She was in labor at home and felt the baby wasn’t able to come out. After one day her husband and mother took her to the hospital where she discovered her baby had died. She said the urinary incontinence soon followed and her husband could not stand the smell of her. He divorced her and has remarried someone else. She now lives with her mother who is the only person who will be around her. This will be her first fistula surgery. “I am very happy. My problem will be solved so I came to HOPE Hospital”.
Nur was expecting her fourth child at age 40. After one day of labour at home she was feeling a lot of pain that was not common with her other children. She had just her sister assisting her birth, and after 24 hours passed with no change she suggested Nur should go to the hospital. Nur’s husband took her to the hospital but it was too late; her baby had already died. At the hospital they removed her baby. She said the leaking began very soon after her hospital visit and has been relentless since. Her friends and family left her, and her husband has since passed away. She came unaccompanied to HOPE Hospital and says she is always alone. She underwent her first fistula surgery and is already feeling better. She said she is grateful for HOPE Hospital and the help it has provided her with.
Romida Begum is just 20 years old. Romida developed obstetric fistula during the delivery of her first baby. Romida was delivering with a traditional birth attendant who encouraged her to continue her labor at home despite the fact that she was already in labor for two days. Finally, she was taken to the hospital but her baby was stillborn. Romida could not comprehend the loss she was experiencing as this was her first child. Like most of the poor and illiterate pregnant women in the rural and underserved areas of Cox’s Bazar, Romida was a victim of lacking the vital education on safe pregnancy and delivery. Her husband left her and got remarried, so she went to live with her parents. Romida does not engage in any social events as she says nobody is sympathetic to her suffering. Romida came into contact with the HOPE team after only 6 months of developing her complication and decided quickly on undergoing surgery. During her first operation, Romida’s fistula was repaired successfully but she still suffered from urethral incontinence. HOPE’s Fistula Surgeon completed a urethroplasty during a second surgery and Romida is completely cured. Given that she is no longer suffering like she used to, and given her young age, Romida is looking forward to being able to be a part of her community again.