Patient Stories: Irene


Irene is just 18 years old. At the tender age of 16, she became pregnant while still in primary school and could therefore not continue with her education.

She labored at home for two days because her mother could not afford to pay the maternity bill. Finally Irene gave birth but unfortunately her baby had died in childbirth. Very quickly after giving birth Irene realised that she had no control of her urine or stool. This was her induction to womanhood.  At this tender age, Irene's friends stopped interacting with her and she felt stigmatized.

Everywhere around me was just bad smell and that was too much stress for me. There was no money for seeking help because we needed to travel to Nairobi for treatment. The nearby hospital could not address my problem.

Finally Irene and her mother went to the Kenyatta National Hospital. Irene was examined and given a return date for surgery. Because Irene had sustained two fistulas, only one was repaired and a colostomy done to divert stool in order to facilitate healing. After three months, she had another operation to close the colostomy because the recto-vaginal fistula had healed. She however continued leaking urine because the VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) had not been repaired. Irene had learned to be patient and wait for the promise of the doctors.

During the annual camp Irene received a call on the fistula hotline telling her to go for repair of the VVF.

I had waited for the call for over two months but it felt like it was a year, sometimes I thought I had been forgotten and would just call the FFF office to say hi.

During this camp Irene was operated on and for the first time in more than a year she slept on a dry bed.

Irene shared her story with older and younger women suffering from fistula thus encouraging and giving them hope. She is very happy to have been cured not only for the fistula but also from stigma which had taken away her dignity. Irene hopes to resume her studies someday soon.