Meet Levine

Levine never imagined that appendicitis surgery would result in an injury that could devastate her life.

Levine's Story

In 2015, she was admitted to the hospital for routine appendicitis surgery. During the procedure, her surgeon accidentally punctured her bladder, which resulted in an iatrogenic fistula.

She was discharged from the hospital, but her doctors left in a catheter. Every 20 days, for 17 months, she returned to the hospital to change the bag that held her urine. In addition to the incontinence, she began to have headaches and stomachaches. The doctors would only prescribe drugs.

Levine said she grew shy, embarrassed by her leaking urine. Yet she was grateful that her husband, her four children, friends and extended family all remained supportive emotionally and financially.

One day, she learned of the SALFA hospital in Morondava, and that they could provide treatment that would heal her fistula, thanks to support from Fistula Foundation. She received treatment in July, 2016, and doctors reported that her surgery was successful. She returned to the hospital in October for a follow up appointment.

Sadly, the road to full recovery still lies ahead of Levine. During her follow up appointment, she shared that she still did not feel well. Her wound had grown severe and infected, making it difficult for her to sit up in bed.

But one day, her health will be restored and this nightmare will become a distant memory.

About Madagascar

  • Population: 24,430,325
  • Average Births per Woman: 4.12
  • Female Literacy: 62.6%
  • Population Living in Poverty: 75.3% (less than $1.25/day)
Read More

We’re Making a Difference in Madagascar

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Spotlight on Where You’re Helping: Madagascar

Despite being known for its rich biodiversity, Madagascar’s people face extreme poverty—three-quarters of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. Fertility rates are high, and child marriage is prevalent in poor, rural areas. Many women lack access to skilled health care providers during delivery, significantly increasing the risk of childbirth complications like fistula….

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Icon Supports Fistula Surgeries

Since November 2015, customers purchasing Icon pee-proof panties have supported fistula treatment. Icon panties are reusable, washable, and comfortable underwear designed to keep women of all ages dry and odor-free from light bladder leaks. Icon has allocated a percentage of its sales to Fistula Foundation, funding 71 free surgeries for women suffering from obstetric fistula…

Read Another Woman’s Story

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    Kenya

    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Lida

    Afghanistan

    Lida gave birth to her first and only child 12 years ago. Sadly, the baby died shortly after it was born. Not only that, but Lida developed a fistula during the difficult delivery and started leaking urine constantly from that day.

  • Annonciata

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    Annonciata is a 56-year old mother and farmer from a small village in Budaka District in Uganda. She had previously given birth to six children without significant complications, but her seventh delivery did not go as planned.

  • Felistas

    Kenya

    Felistas developed fistula at the age of 17, after delivering a stillborn baby via Cesarian section. Her husband left her because he could not stand her condition. She suffered alone until learning one day that treatment was available through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Laila

    Afghanistan

    As a child bride in Afghanistan, Laila developed a fistula before her 12th birthday. Today, after receiving free treatment at Cure International Hospital, she feels as if she has been given life again.

  • Selina

    Kenya

    Selina, a traditional birth attendant from remote West Pokot, Kenya, helped eight women from her village get life-changing fistula surgery. And she’s not done yet.

  • Betty

    Kenya

    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Flavia

    Flavia

    Angola

    Flavia is a shy 17 year old girl who was married when she was just 15. Soon after, she became pregnant. Her labor began at home, but the family was unprepared when the labor became obstructed. Not knowing what to do, they finally took her to a hospital.

  • Fistula Foundation - Lia

    Lia

    Angola

    Lia arrived at CEML with great misgivings - she had sought help at many places for her fistula but was given no hope. A friend told her that she might find help at CEML and urged her to go, which she eventually did. She told staff there that she sat on some rocks nearby, cried and repeated “God help me” over and over before coming through the doors.

  • Pastor Raphael

    Kenya

    The fact that he is blind has never slowed him down, and at 45 years, Pastor Raphael is feeling young and energetic. As a child, Pastor Raphael was unable to finish school as he had tend to the family’s cattle, but he always felt a calling to become a pastor and to serve his community.

  • Odeline

    Chad

    As is the norm in Chad, Odeline was married at the age of 23 and soon became pregnant. The pregnancy went well and she delivered a healthy baby boy. Three years later she also delivered her second baby girl without problems. In 2006, she became pregnant with her third child. She carried the baby for nine months and expected the labor to be normal as in her first two deliveries, but after having been in labor for more than two days it was obvious something was seriously wrong.

  • Helen

    Kenya

    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

  • Nathi-Uganda

    Nathi

    Uganda

    Nathi* lives in Uganda. She was married at the age of 13 and two years later was pregnant with her first child. After enduring a difficult labor, Nathi lost her baby and was left with obstetric fistula, incontinent and leaking wastes. Her husband abandoned her and soon after, her family did, too. At 15, she was alone and scared.

  • Cellina

    Kenya

    Cellina Nyasugutha is a community health volunteer with Daraja Mbili, an outreach program based in Kisii.

  • Rahima

    Bangladesh

    When Rahima was just 13 she was married to save her family money on living costs. She soon became pregnant and suffered through prolonged, obstructed labor that left her incontinent. She lived with obstetric fistula for 12 years before finally finding help through our partners at HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh.

  • Esther

    Kenya

    Esther gave birth to her second child, Manuel, less than one year ago. She was encouraged to stay at home to deliver the baby, where she labored for three days with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Fortunately, she gave birth to a lively baby boy. However, after four days she noticed she was leaking urine and was unable to control it.

  • Zeinabou

    Niger

    Zeinabou comes from a village 100 miles north of Danja, Niger. She was married and became pregnant while still in her teens. As is the local custom, Zeinabou planned to deliver her baby at home because maternity services are not easily accessible.

  • Nura

    Chad

    Nura comes from Lai, a region in the south of Chad where she married at age 17. She first became pregnant at 20 and tried to give birth at home, aided only by her family. After 4 days of complicated labor, she was finally taken to the maternity center in Guidari, a nearby village.

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