Soddo Christian Hospital

Surgical Success Stories - #126 & #127

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Please meet Biranesh Duracho who has been widowed for one year. She has delivered seven children and three of them are living. She has suffered from prolapse for three years and is very grateful to be taken care of at Soddo Christian Hospital. Thank you!

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This is Allane Alaro. She has suffered from prolapse for four years. She has delivered six children and only one is still living. Thank you for being a part of relieving her suffering and making an impact on her life!

Surgical Success Stories - #110

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Say hi to Dalibe Unke! She has 10 living children and has been living with a second degree pelvic prolapse for a year. She is so grateful to MWAHFE for sponsoring her surgery. Thank you for making a difference in her life!

Surgical Success Stories - #103 to #109 (Wow!)

We are so please to introduce you to these women who have had their prolapse uterus surgeries sponsored by you - our generous donors!

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Please meet Befene Babulo who has had surgery for uteropelvic prolapse. She is 58 years of age, a widow and has delivered 10 children. Thank you for helping make a great difference in her life.

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Deligate Kajala has been pregnant eight times and has three living children. She is a widow from Ajora and has suffered with severe uterine prolapse for a few years. We are so glad to be able to sponsor her life-changing surgery! Deligate is the 104th woman we've sponsored for surgery.


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This is Wogate Abebe, a widow who has been pregnant eight times and has six living children. For the last three years she has been bothered with her prolapse occurring at times and then being reduced. However, she has had severe prolapse for three months and has now been sponsored by MWAHFE for her surgery!

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This is Belaynesh Budacho, a 45-year-old married woman who has been pregnant 13 times. She has eight living children and has suffered from third degree prolapse for three years. She underwent surgery August 1st. We're so happy for you, Belaynesh!


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This is Ukume Dargaso, a 60-year-old widow who has suffered from third degree prolapse also for three years. She has five children but has been pregnant nine times - one child died and she had three miscarriages. She also underwent surgery on August 1st.

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From Dr. Mark:
We'd like you to meet Ayinate Lota, a widow who has had severe prolapse for seven years. She also has a loiter of her thyroid and her thyroid levels were elevated to where we could not perform her surgery. She was supposed of had surgery on August 1st but due to her high thyroid levels we had to cancel her surgery after spending two days in the hospital. We put her on anti-thyroid medication and will see her again next month. We paid for her transportation to go home and to return. She is 50 years old with nine living children. She stated that her prolapse prevented her from being able to work to help herself financially.

We're hoping that you will be well enough for your surgery very soon, Ayinate!

UPDATE: Ayinate was able to have her surgery in February 2018. We're so happy for you!


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From Dr. Mark: 
Dear all, please meet Biranesh Bugle, a widow who has been pregnant seven times has five children. She has had 4th° pelvic prolapse for three years. She underwent surgery today. Thank you so very very much. God bless you!!

 

The People Behind the Projects: Mark & Allison Karnes

Not everyone has the temperament and motivation to pick up their lives and move to Cameroon.

But Allison and Mark Karnes decided that was the path for them. Oh, and they did it with a baby on the way.

The couple made the trek to central Africa shortly after Dr. Mark graduated, where they operated a primary care clinic.

Life wasn’t always easy – the heat was intense and they dealt with malaria, parasites and all kinds of realities of life that don't exist in the States – but it’s a special part of their history.

Two of the Karnes' children were born in Cameroon, and when they left five years later, a third was on the way. They now have five children, several of whom have lived and worked in various parts of Africa.

 A few of the MWAHFE committee members who went to visit with Mark and Allison Karnes in Port Huron. We had a lovely chat at Cracker Barrel! What an honour to find out a little bit more about this inspiring couple.

A few of the MWAHFE committee members who went to visit with Mark and Allison Karnes in Port Huron. We had a lovely chat at Cracker Barrel! What an honour to find out a little bit more about this inspiring couple.

It would be more than two decades after that journey in Cameroon that the Karnes returned to the continent, spending 25 years in Michigan in between. There, Dr. Mark ran his own gynaecological practice.

“We knew that at some point in time we’d go back in Africa,” he said.

They couldn’t stay away, and they felt called to return. Just over a month after retirement, the Karnes landed in Ethiopia.

“When you visit Africa, it gets in your bloodstream. You get infected with it,” said Mark.

And it would be about more than just serving the people. The Karnes were inspired to share their knowledge and leave a lasting legacy behind.

It was at a medical missions conference that they learned about the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS), an organization that seeks to keep African surgeons at home, with hopes of reversing the “brain drain” that often draws the best and brightest physicians to developed countries like the US and Canada.

Knowing they wanted to contribute to that initiative helped narrow down the options for a return to the African continent.

But why Ethiopia?

“They had coffee there. And popcorn,” Dr. Mark said with a chuckle.

Of course the decision was more complicated. The Ethiopian climate attracted the Karnes, and Allison formed a special bond with friends at the Soddo Christian Hospital.

When you visit Africa, it gets in your bloodstream.
— Dr. Mark Karnes

It seemed like a good fit.

And PAACS drew them in.

“It's one thing to know how to perform a caesarian, and save the life of mother and baby. But to each someone how to do that is just duplication,” said Mark. And at the Soddo Christian Hospital, that's exactly what he does.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia volunteers even had the chance to take a peek at a surgery conducted by Dr. Mark – with help from an training doctor – on a recent trip. Practicing medicine is very different, even at a privately-funded hospital, in Ethiopia. Supplies are not always readily available, and even water isn't a guarantee.

But what struck our volunteers the most was the incredible patience that Dr. Mark showed throughout the course of the operation. Not only was he working to repair a delicate reproductive system, but he was sharing his knowledge with a less experienced surgeon. 

“It's very important, because I'm not always going to be there,” Dr. Mark said.

 Dr. Mark chats with Shelley outside the Bucama Health Clinic in rural Ethiopia in February 2017. This facility directs some patients to Soddo Christian Hospital to undergo surgery with Dr. Mark. 

Dr. Mark chats with Shelley outside the Bucama Health Clinic in rural Ethiopia in February 2017. This facility directs some patients to Soddo Christian Hospital to undergo surgery with Dr. Mark. 

While Mark is changing lives in the operating room (learn more about prolapse), Allison is out doing the same in rural schools all over the region with the WRAPS initiative. (Check out our spotlight story on WRAPS here!)

“We talk a lot about menstruation and what it is, and the biology of it,” said Allison. “I talk a lot about being safe, because rape is still a big concern.”

The WRAPS – washable, reusable, affordable pads – have caught the eye of many, including some local and influential leaders who have brought Allison into schools that had never received similar programming.

 Allison teaches a workshop on WRAPS at Abba Pascal Girls School, one of the sites for Girls Gotta Run programming.

Allison teaches a workshop on WRAPS at Abba Pascal Girls School, one of the sites for Girls Gotta Run programming.

It’s sweet to listen to Mark and Allison talk about their lives. What’s clear is that the couple has an incredible bond and partnership. They know each other’s passions inside and out, and the pride in their voices is evident when they talk about those projects.

Over their decades in Ethiopia, the Karnes have played witness to so much change – and progress.

“In 2007 there was only one paved road in Soddo,” said Mark. “When we first arrived, all of the taxis were donkeys and mules and horses.”

There wasn't a bajaj in sight.

Just seven years ago, about 94% of women were estimated to be delivering their children at home without medical care. Now that’s dropped to about 50%, Mark said.

Development is constant, and life changes all the time.

“They even, on the weekends at this one hotel, have ice cream,” said Mark with awe.

It’s amazing how much can change with “funds and a little heart,” said Allison.

The Karnes are the perfect example of that. And there’s so much more the couple hopes to accomplish.

“I can’t live long enough to do enough there. I have projects that would keep me busy for another 100 years,” Allison said. “It only takes a little money to change the lives of an entire community.”

Despite the hard work and the long hours, the Karnes said it is an honour and a joy to work, live and serve in Soddo.

 “We are the ones who are blessed,” Mark said.

“We learn so much from the Ethiopian people.”

Surgical Success Stories - #101 and #102

Even as we were celebrating our 100th surgery, Dr. Mark sent us the photos and stories of two more women who had just been sponsored! As great as the milestone was, we're even more excited to be able to continue this life-changing work through Dr. Mark and his team at Soddo Christian Hospital.

Meet Bazite and Akala... more lives changed by your generosity and financial partnership.

This is Bazite Mandabo, a widow from Bucama who has had prolapse for five years. She has been pregnant seven times, has had three miscarriages and has three living children.

This is Akala Awandu, also a widow, who has had fourth degree prolapse for 10 years. She has been pregnant four times and has three living children. She was brought to Soddo Christian Hospital by Dr. Mary Vanderkooi who has a mobile clinic in a very rural area, Adjura, where she takes care of some of the poorest of the poor.  

Surgical Success Stories - #98, #99 and #100 (WOW!)

We are thrilled to be introducing you to the latest three women who have had their prolapse uterus surgeries sponsored by MWAHFE. What a joy it is to know that 100 women have had their lives changed by the generous donors who have made their surgeries possible!

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Ukume Aniulo has 10 children and has been suffering with a total prolapse for two years. Now she will be able to live her life again!

Alemitu Chemere has been pregnant nine times but only six of her children are living. She has had a total prolapse for nine months. She says that it is very difficult for her to walk because of this problem and is it very excited to have her life back.

Tirame Fremo has suffered from third degree UVP for more than 2 years. She has been pregnant 10 times and now has seven living children. She was able to make a small down payment towards her surgery but the vast majority was covered by MWAHFE. Thank you for helping this woman regain her dignity. 

Surgical Success Stories - #93... all the way to #97!

Dr. Mark and his obstetrics team at Soddo Christian Hospital have been busy! They have just sent us the photos and stories of six more women who have had their lives changed through surgeries sponsored by Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. 

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Majute Badacha is a 45-year-old woman who has had four pregnancies and four children. She has had prolapse for six years and has been a widow for four years. Thank you so much for making a big difference in her life.

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Dinkenesh Folla has been pregnant five times and has been a widow for 10 years. She was suffering from third-degree UVP for eight years. Thank you for helping her.

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Guneshe Olecha has been pregnant nine times. She delivered six children, had three miscarriages and has three living children. She has suffered with a very large cystocele for six years. She has been a widow for nine years. She is so grateful that she underwent surgery.

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Marta Mota Gravida is an extremely poor woman. Her husband left her eight years ago to raise her children by herself. She had severe abnormal bleeding and cystocele. Thank you for making such a difference in her life. She received two units of blood before surgery and one unit at the end of her surgery. She is now doing very well!

Dupase Ducho has delivered 10 childrenand sadly, only two are living. She has been a widow for 16 years and has suffered with severe prolapse for six years. She is very grateful for her surgery.

Special Report #3: Megan Stacey from Ethiopia

Originally appeard in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review on February 27, 2017.

There are some moments you just never forget.

 Shelley Green greets Sulded, a woman who lives in Soddo, Ethiopia and needed the help of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia to correct a prolapsed uterus. So far the organization has sponsored 83 of those surgeries.

Shelley Green greets Sulded, a woman who lives in Soddo, Ethiopia and needed the help of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia to correct a prolapsed uterus. So far the organization has sponsored 83 of those surgeries.

Standing in a small, shadowy room in the middle of a health clinic in rural Ethiopia, listening to incredible women pour out their souls, I had one of those moments.

These stories, centred around a uterine health condition, were horrifying and heart wrenching and inspiring all at once.

The women at the clinic – recipients of a surgery to correct a prolapsed uterus – were so gracious and open. They made themselves vulnerable and shared personal details about their lives, despite Ethiopia’s culture of privacy.

Many lived for years with extreme discomfort. The husband of one woman threatened to leave her if she refused to have sex with him – despite the pain her condition was causing.

The surgery, done by Dr. Mark Karnes at the Soddo Christian Hospital, is quite literally life changing.

“Before the operation, I was taking care of my family, but there was a lot of shame because my smelling was so much. It was not good. Even the wound was bleeding. My life was suffering,” said Amarach, who lived with a severely prolapsed uterus for over a year.

Most women with prolapsed uteruses were severely depressed and some were ignored or shunned by their communities. It’s common to stay away from friends and family and suffer in silence.

“I was hiding myself – I didn’t tell anybody,” said Turngo, a 50-year-old woman from the Soddo region. Most ladies wouldn’t even tell their spouse or children about the problem, despite daily pain and a terrible smell.

“My fear was not being able to be with people ever again,” said Sulded, from a rural area near Bucama, Ethiopia. “I was hopeless and I was ashamed.”

Amarach didn’t have a single person to talk to about her pain.

I can walk, I can even run. I can stand, I can sit. My body, I can control. It is my own. Everything is new. This life is new.
— Turngo, surgery recipient

And the nasty odour was a common symptom among the women who have dealt with a prolapsed uterus. In severe cases, the uterus can actually slip out of the body. One woman told the doctor that her uterus hit the floor when she would squat to use the bathroom. In rural Ethiopia, the toilet is often a hole in the ground.

“I was not able to sit with people, even to greet them. The smelling filled all my body. I was full of shame. With the smell, how can I go on?” Turngo said.

She lived that bleak reality for four years. She was in so much pain that she had to get down on all fours to cook because she couldn’t sit or stand.

Another woman was so distraught that she contemplated taking her own life.

It’s a devastating issue, but there are solutions. Karnes operates on dozens of women every year. The surgery comes at a cost of $325, a price tag that’s completely beyond possibility for most Ethiopian families.

“(I had) nothing, not even one cent, one birr,” Amarach said.

Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia has so far funded 83 of those surgeries. To say the recipients are grateful is a dramatic understatement.

The most consistent and noticeable change is relief from the bad odour. Women reported smelling “like perfume" post-surgery.

“I can walk, I can even run. I can stand, I can sit. My body, I can control. It is my own,” said Turngo.

“Everything is new. This life is new.”

- Megan Stacey

Surgical Success Stories - #82 & #83

It was a such a privilege for our team to drive these two women from Bucama to Soddo Christian Hospital for their surgeries. Dr. Mark writes, "It is been great having the team here for the past few days. Thank you for making such a great difference in these peoples lives. God bless you.

Shulale Kaba (right) was pregnant six times and has four living children. She has suffered from UVP for four years had a third-degree uterine prolapse before her surgery.

Alana Aba (below) had suffered from third degree uterine pelvic prolapse for five years. She has been pregnant seven times and has six living children. She also is very poor, having come to the hospital barefoot. 

We are so happy for these beautiful women! Their lives have been changed forever by these surgeries.

 

Thanking Dr. Mark

Dr. Mark Karnes leads the obstetrics team at Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia. He recently traveled to Bucama to see some prolapse patients. The women found out that he was coming and dropped in to say thank you for changing their lives. He was so humbled and sent us these pictures to thank us for being a part of this project. It's an honour to partner with Dr. Mark and the team at Sodoo Christian Hospital.