Kate Grant, Fistula Foundation CEO
26 September 2014
When I entered the hospital room, the first thing I noticed about Naresia was her smile. It came easily, brightening the whole room with a joy that was palpable; her face unlined, with rounded features, looking more like an older girl than a young woman. Next to her bed sat a middle-aged Masai woman with shorn hair and large beaded earrings, proudly holding a baby. At first I thought the woman might be Naresia’s mother, but I learned later she was her grandmother.
“How old are you?” I asked Naresia. “14,” she said, and giggled nervously. I thought no wonder she looks young, she is young. She’s the same age as my son living a continent away in California. In another world, they could be classmates.
And the baby? I learned was Naresia’s. A baby at 14!
As I heard her story it became clear why she was smiling so cheerfully: she’d given birth to the baby five months earlier, but awakened after a prolonged labor to find her bed soaked with urine, a sign that her delivery had left her with obstetric fistula. She had endured incontinence since then. But, thanks to a dedicated surgeon, Dr. Mutiso, and the team at Jamaa Mission Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, the incontinence which had disabled Naresia for months had just been cured with surgery completed the week before. She was finally dry again and both she and her grandmother were overjoyed.