On average, it costs $1,678 for Ana Maria's treatment
Subsidies fund $178 and Watsi raises the remaining $1,500
- Impact on patient's life
- Cultural or regional significance
What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?
Many women come to our medical partner's referral clinic with uterine prolapse. This is a very uncomfortable condition where the uterus descends through the vagina and protrudes outside. The other common condition for which our medical partner does hysterectomy procedures is severe fibroids, which are small benign tumors in the uterus that cause protracted bleeding and pain.
What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?
In addition to causing a lot of pain, uterine prolapse is a source of significant stigma and shame. Fibroids cause bleeding and pain, which can cause chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness—severely impacting quality of life.
What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?
Uterine prolapse is rare in the United States. It is common in Guatemala because women have many more children and pregnancies than a typical woman in the United States. Fibroids are equally common all over the world. They are a problem in Guatemala because underlying nutritional deficiencies tend to exacerbate the resulting anemia.
- Impact on patient's life
- Risks and side-effects
What does the treatment process look like?
Treatment is a simple surgical procedure, although it does usually require staying overnight in the hospital. Recovery is a bit slower than some procedures, and often patients move pretty slowly for a month or two. Usually by the six or eight week mark, however, they feel energetic and are getting back to their usual activities.
What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?
This treatment improves lives. It allows women with severe anemia from uterine bleeding or extreme discomfort and embarrassment from uterine prolapse to get back to their lives.
What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?
This condition is very treatable. This is a one-time surgery which, in the majority of cases, permanently takes care of the problem. Risks and complications are rare, but may occur as with any major surgery: injury to nearby organs, anesthesia problems, blood clots in the legs or lungs, infection, heavy bleeding, early menopause, if the ovaries are removed, and pain during sexual intercourse.
How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?
Most of the national hospitals have surgeons who can perform this procedure. In fact, our medical partner often uses these surgeons to have procedures done for their patients. The catch is that the hospitals and other institutions who perform these procedures may claim they are free but then make up the cost of the procedure by charging patients for other expenses. Therefore, most of the time, patients still cannot afford to have the procedure done. Our medical partner works with patients to pay for the necessary testing needed before the procedure, and to subsidize surgical fees, transportation, and lodging, so that patients can get on with their lives.
What are the alternatives to this treatment?
The alternative for most patients who cannot afford to pay is many months or even years of trying to get the procedure done through the free public system, spending countless days and often a great deal of money in the process.