The demand for corrective women’s surgery in Nepal is great, with as many as 1 in 10 women of reproductive age suffering from uterine prolapse. A lack of medical care during pregnancy and birth contributes to these high rates of uterine prolapse and obstetric fistula.

Uterine prolapse is where the structures which hold the uterus (womb) in place are stretched or damaged and the uterus descends into the vagina (birth canal). It is a common consequence of vaginal birth, particularly in those who have prolonged labour or give birth to many children.

Obstetric fistula is where a hole develops in the wall of the vagina, making an abnormal connection between the vagina and either the bladder or bowel, causing urinary or faecal incontinence. It is a tragic consequence of prolonged and difficult labour. Women who experience severe prolapse or obstetric fistula often endure years of pain, infection and incontinence. In many cases, these conditions lead to depression, social isolation, worsening poverty and even abandonment.

The Open Heart International women’s health project provides world-class surgical care for uterine prolapse and obstetric fistula, ultimately improving the quality of life for women who would not otherwise receive care.

Most patients can expect a full recovery, removing both the physical and emotional burden impacting their daily lives. We see women regain their health, independence and self-esteem. Their improved health has a flow on affect for their families and the wider community.

Every year, Open Heart International helps as many as 80 Nepali women. As well as providing world-class surgical care, the team provides expert instruction and education to their local colleagues so that women can continue to be helped.

In 2018, Open Heart International has partnered with ADRA Nepal to significantly expand the breadth of the project. In conjunction with the surgery, the project will also engage both men and women in open conversations about the culturally taboo health subject of women’s health. The project will also provide low cost interventions such as pessaries for less severe prolapse conditions.

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Phul Maya’s new lease on life 

By the age of 45, Phul Maya had experienced 10 pregnancies with only three children surviving infancy. Married at 17, she had her first child at 19 before enduring two miscarriages, three still births and two infant deaths shortly after birth.

By the time Phul Maya presented to the Scheer Memorial Hospital, she had endured 16 years with a severe uterine prolapse.

With no running water in her village, Phul Maya needs to walk for hours to collect water, twice every day. She found it difficult to walk or sit. She also suffered from urinary incontinence.

Fortunately, the Open Heart International team were able to operate. Her surgery and recovery were successful. Returning to her family and community, Phul Maya can now enjoy a vastly improved quality of life and better health in the future.

There are many women in Nepal like Phul Maya. With your help, we can transform the lives of these women so that they can regain their health, dignity and independence.

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