Friday, June 17, 2011


It is hard to know Seibatu’s age. She has a very thin frame despite our attempts to fatten her up. She carries her perfect apple cheek bones without any trouble and she has had five pregnancies. I would put her into her mid to late twenties, although she could not confirm nor deny this. Here is Seibatu’s story…

Seibatu has been here at the centre for 153 days. Yes, you heard me right, 153 days. Her first surgery took place on January 19, 2011, but I am getting ahead of myself. Like I said, Seibatu has had five pregnancies. From those five, she has four daughters which I am sure are as beautiful as she. Zainab, Fatmata, Isata, and Jariatu. It was during her fifth pregnancy that she came into trouble. She went into labor at home. For three days she labored before she went to the nearest government hospital to her home. There she had her child without a caesarean section. The baby was born alive. A boy. Within one day he died. The next day Seibatu noticed she could not control her urine and one month later she realized she could not control her bowels either. She had both a VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) and an RVF (recto-vaginal fistula). This happened ten months ago.

Soon after her problems started another woman in her village returned from Freetown where she became dry after having this same problem. Seibatu was taken to the Paramount Chief of her village by her in-laws to seek help. He told her to go to Aberdeen to get help like this other woman had done. She was brought by her husband, Umaru, a very thin man like Seibatu but with the same infectious smile. At home they work together as farmers: cassava and rice. Since Seibatu has been here they have not been able to farm. Umaru travels between home and Freetown to visit Seibatu and care for his family. He has been seen on the ground here cutting her toenails and taking care of her, a beautiful sight to behold.

January 19, 2011 Seibatu had her first VVF surgery. She came out of surgery with two stents and a foley. Quickly we noticed her surgery did not work as her bed was still wet. After she had time to recover from this first surgery, on March 1 she was sent to a nearby hospital to have a colostomy placed. When the colostomy was placed, her RVF was closed. To give her body time to heal she would need to keep this colostomy for three months. Three weeks ago she went back for a check up and it was noticed that the RVF was only the size of a pin point! This Sunday she will return to have the colostomy reversed. The first step to full healing. Her RVF is closed!

May 18 she went back in to have her VVF attempted once again. Again it failed. Seibatu does not have a lot of healthy tissue to use to close her VVF. The greater part of the VVF was healed though. That was great news. Next month another surgeon will be visiting the centre and hopefully he will be able to do the final part of her healing, to finally close her VVF once and for all.

I asked her how she feels about being here for so long. She said she is happy. She wants a ‘well body’ to take home. She desires healing so much. There have been many tears shed on behalf of Seibatu by her, by myself, by the nurses. Seibatu has come so far and we can only pray that she will leave here completely healed and she would go home dancing.