Australian missionaries Dr Catherine Hamlin and her husband Reg pioneered surgery for the condition called fistula - an injury incurred during obstructed labour resulting in uncontrollable incontinence. Surgeons from all over the world have come to Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to learn these techniques. Catherine Hamlin is still operating though now in her late eighties. Many of the nurses - and some of the surgeons! - now working first came to the hospital as patients, then stayed on to recuperate and picked up skills as they lent a hand. The book is full of stories interspersed with accounts of the dedicated and painstaking techniques that had to be devised for the undernourished, small-boned patients who come in a steady stream to their doors. Behind all this is the figure of Catherine, described by the New York Times as 'the new Mother Teresa of our age'.
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