At eighteen, Alemtsehay married a young man from her village and the two began a happy marriage, filled with love and affection. Alemtsehay was still in school when they were married, which she was able to successfully complete. Her husband worked for the government and was able to comfortably cover their living costs.
When Alemtsehay became pregnant for the first time, she and her husband were thrilled. Their village was very isolated and did not have a local health care center. She remained at home for the duration of her pregnancy, where she was cared for by her husband and assisted by their traditional village attendants when it came time to deliver the baby. The labor was very difficult and on the seventh day, she became unable to push any more and fell into unconsciousness. Her husband then arranged for her to be carried by neighbors on a homemade stretcher to the nearest health center.
With assistance Alemtsehay delivered her stillborn baby, resulting in a double fistula and a muscle contracture on one of her legs. The grief from the loss of her baby and traumatic injury was unimaginable.
Unsure what medical options were available, Alemtsehay was carried home. “No one came near me except my husband in that time, due to the stench. Death would have been preferable to living in that condition.” Alemtsehay recalled.
For eight months she lived in isolation from her community, unable to leave her bed from the pain of her injuries and fear of ostracism from her neighbors. In that time, her husband was the only one to remain by her side. She recalls how he washed her thighs four times a day, fed her, cared for her and shared in her pain.
After months of suffering, the couple heard about Hamlin Fistula Services on the radio, which gave them hope. They began the two-day journey to Hamlin’s Yirgalem regional hospital immediately, where they were then directed to the Addis Ababa hospital.
Alemtsehay spent three months in treatment before her leg contracture and rectal fistula were repaired. The damage to her bladder was severe, but after surgery and a urinary plug, Alemtsehay was able to return home with her husband.
“My life now is a normal once again, all thanks to the care I received from Hamlin. God bless you all.” Said Alemtsehay.
In 2015 Alemtsehay delivered a healthy baby boy by C-section at the Yirgalem regional hospital, where she later returned to deliver her second baby boy in 2017.