Meet Mailess from Zambia

After Mailess Luo endured many hours of wrenching, complicated labor at home, she knew that she needed to see a doctor. However, the nearest health facility was many miles away, across harsh wilderness roads. In desperation, Mailess and her companions set out on foot. However, they were forced to wait for three hours to avoid a pride of lions they encountered along the way, feeding on an antelope carcass.

In the end, Mailess had to travel to three different facilities before she found a doctor who could help her. By that point, it was too late. Her baby was stillborn, and she began to leak urine.

Tragically, Mailess’s troubles were just beginning. No doctor was able to cure her incontinence. Her husband divorced her, convinced that she would never be healed. “I lost all hope I had for healing from this problem,” she said.

After ten years of living with obstetric fistula, Mailess finally received a phone call from her brother that changed her life. The hospital where her brother worked—St. Francis Hospital—had just joined Fistula Foundation’s countrywide treatment network. He had seen it with his own eyes: women with her exact symptoms were being healed, thanks to highly trained doctors and nurses. Mailess could finally get the care she needed!

Mailess’s fistula was complex, requiring multiple operations to correct. She recently received her final procedure at St. Francis Hospital—and for the first time in a decade, she is finally dry!

Published 4/6/21

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