Fistula Repairs, Restoring Hope For VVF Survivors In Kaduna

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A 29-year-old VVF survivor, Safiya Musa, from Buruku in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, has expressed happiness over her current situation after a successful repair surgery, saying it has given her hope for a new life.

She told a reporter who was at the Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Unit of the Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria in Kaduna State, on a special interview to mark the 2023 International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) that she had lived with VVF for nine years.

VVF or Obstetric Fistula, also known as fistula, is a childbirth complication which leads to an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina, causing continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence.

The condition is among the most distressing complications of gynecologic and obstetric procedures which can cause discomfort, and if left untreated, it may lead to serious bacterial infection, which may result in sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death.

However, the condition can be repaired through surgery and survivors can live their normal lives again.

Musa, therefore, said the nine years of pains, urine leakage, smell and constant ridicule by her co-wife, had not been easy.

She said “people mock me whenever I wash my clothes socked from uncontrollable leakage.

She narrated that she got married at 20, but lost her first baby to prolonged labour that lasted for three days, leaving her with VVF.

She added that she also lost her second baby to miscarriage, but her life changed after a successful surgery at the Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) Unit of the Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria.

She said “I must say, however, that when I developed the condition, my husband stood by me, except for my co-wife, who refused to eat my food. Even her children rejected my food.”

The visibly elated Musa, who was successfully delivered a baby boy through Caesarian Section after the VVF surgery, added that her life had turned around.

Musa’s mother, Mrs Asama’u Musa, who was seen sitting beside her daughter in the hospital, said that the marriage and pregnancy in the first year came with joy to all members of the family.

She, however, said that their joy turned to sadness when a scan result showed that she would not be able to deliver the baby by herself.

She added that when it was time to deliver, she was taken to a private hospital at Buruku, where the doctor assured them that she would deliver successfully with the help of a particular injection.

They said that the injection will cost N10,000 and we paid. But after a prolonged labour that lasted for the whole day, the officers said that they cannot handle the case and referred us to another hospital.

“The doctor also tried his best without success and later took her to another hospital at Mando, where she underwent a surgery but lost the baby.”

The mother said that she took the ailing Musa home and two days later, she noticed her daughter’s belly was getting bigger and she could not urinate.

She said that she went back to the doctor and complained, adding that the doctor assured them that there was a solution.

“Since he touched something, I suspected it could be a cotton wool that the doctor probably put there and removed and that was when the urine started to leak.

“We didn’t know about the disease before and when we raised her up, urine will begin to leak and If she is lying down on the bed, you will see urine everywhere.

“I complained to the doctor, and he said there is a solution, but it will require six injections per day at N2,000 each.

“Two days after the injections, there was still no improvement, then I took her home. I will cry, she will cry, and her siblings also cry because we have never seen this kind of ailment before.

“Then our husbands heard of the VVF Unit and brought us to the facility. She later underwent the surgery, got better, returned to her husband, and was blessed with another pregnancy.

“We returned to the Unit for scan, went back to Buruku where she continued with antenatal care and when it was time to deliver, she returned to the facility where she delivered a baby boy.

“We are grateful! We are grateful! May God uplift the officials,” she said.

Musa’s remarkable fistula repair and a gift of a baby represent a candle of hope to many survivors, which the Head of the VVF Unit, Hajiya Fatima Umar, described as a “joyous moment.”

Umar said that many of the successfully repaired VVF survivors get to live a quality life, adding that the high rate of success has strengthened family bonds and given the survivors a new lease of life.

On his part, the Fistula Surgeon, Dr Ado Zakari, who is also a Consultant Public Health Physician, said he had been operating obstetric fistula since 1999, adding that the condition is repairable.

Zakari described vesicovaginal fistula and rectovaginal fistula generally known as obstetric fistula as serious reproductive health problem which occur as a result of prolonged obstructed labour.

“In vesicovaginal fistula, there is a communication between the bladder and the vagina leading to leakage of urine continuously.

“In rectovaginal fistula, there is a communication between bladder and rectum, where the faeces pass before getting to the anus, leading to intermittent leakage of faeces into the vagina.

“Both of them we call obstetric fistula, that is, fistula resulting from childbirth.

“I have been operating on obstetric fistula since 1999. Of course, they are reparable because even in our centre, over 80 per cent of the survivors get repaired and returned to their places,” Zakari said.



NAN/Oyenike Oyeniyi