Meet Rosemarie DelMonte. Colorado Attorney. Mother. Fistula survivor. She learned of Fistula Foundation through an online post by Melinda Gates. “I had no idea there was an organization helping women with [fistula],” she said. “I felt profoundly moved by it and that’s why I sent the donation. I know how it affected my life and I couldn’t imagine dealing with it in a [developing] country!”
Rosemarie recalled that during the birth of her first child, her obstetrician performed what she believed to be a routine episiotomy. Having never had a child previously, she assumed everything that occurred following the procedure was normal. It wasn’t. She was subsequently and repeatedly misdiagnosed by a negligent doctor and lived with a recto-vaginal fistula for almost two years. In that time, her single fistula became three separate fistulas due to prolonged infection.
“I remember just trying to stay in my office as much as possible,” Rosemarie said of everyday life with fistula. “I became very reclusive although I was ordinarily a social person. I was always self-conscious and often in pain. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my body.” After finally being diagnosed by another physician, Rosemarie received repair surgery and was able to begin the slow process of recovering and moving forward. She ultimately went on to deliver two more healthy children via c-section. “The repair surgery gave back my life.”
Rosemarie was eager to make a difference for other women suffering from fistula, initially donating $1,000 to Fistula Foundation. She felt called to help and hopes her story sheds more light on a medical issue that is seen by many as a taboo topic and which is not discussed as much as it should be. “I wish I could give more! There’s a lot of work to be done and to the extent I can help, I’d be happy to,” she said. “I’d be honored to.”