At age 62, Bhakti Maya Sunwar has struggled with progressive uterine prolapse for 16-years. “I am so thankful to the hospital for fixing my problem. For years, I have had pain – both physical and emotional—as I have struggled with pelvic organ prolapse (POP).”
The sad reality is that Bhakti’s story isn’t unique to her. It is estimated that 1 in 10 ladies, or approximately 1 million women, have various stages of uterine prolapse in Nepal. It is because of the global partnership SMAH has with organizations in the United States, Netherlands, and Australia that we can help ladies like Bhakti.
Bhakti is a mother to 6 children of which 2 died at age 7 and 18. She has been a widow for 18-years; her son and daughter care for her now. She comes from a hilly farming community of Sinduli, approximately a 4-hour drive southeast of SMAH. Bhakti’s prolapse was so severe that she couldn’t walk properly, every step was painful. She was incontinent of urine due to the prolapse. In fact, to void, she would have to manually reduce the prolapse to facilitate emptying of her bladder.
Lynda Kithil, retired operating room nurse from Denver, Colorado, has had a decade of experience helping ladies on the opposite side of the world. As a volunteer Surgical Services Coordinator, Lynda has brought dozens of professionals to Nepal from Colorado to assist SMAH with providing surgical care to POP patients. She has been an immense blessing to SMAH and the patients we serve. Lynda was asked, why do you keep coming? Her response, “I come to Nepal to care for these wonderful ladies who need treatment for POP. It has made me more compassionate for people as I have heard stories like Bhakti’s repeated over and over.”
Intentionally integrated into the surgical camp is a structured learning opportunity for junior staff at SMAH. Visiting surgeon Dr. Sunmee Lee, Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Vice-President of Specialty Care, Centura Health Physician Group, explains, “we come with the goal of partnering with the local surgeons to build skill sets. I actively taught the surgical procedures during the first two days of operating. The surgeons watched very closely. On day 3 of the surgical camp, the most junior surgeon was assisted by a colleague, while I stood in the room, not scrubbed in sterile attire. Together they successfully completed the vaginal hysterectomy. This truly followed the medical education mantra of ‘see one, do one, teach one.’”
Stories like Bhakti’s demonstrate how we are actively fulfilling our Mission Statement, “To provide compassionate, patient-centered care, to international standards, for all patients regardless of the ability to pay.”
SMAH is thankful to the international partners who provide funding and technical and educational expertise to provide these services to patients and staff. Thank you, donors, for making these trips possible!