Meet The Patient: Maria Borja - MEDLIFE

Meet The Patient: Maria Borja

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We first met Maria Borja Nono, age 55, about a year ago when she attended a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in the community of Shobol Pamba, Parroquia San Juan, del Cantón Riobamba in Ecuador. She was examined by our gynecologist and found to have a cystocele. This is a medical condition that occurs when the wall between a woman’s bladder and her vagina is torn. This rupture most likely occurred during the delivery of one of Maria’s 13 children. This encounter underscored the critical need for accessible medical care in underserved communities like Shobol Pamba.

Healthcare Challenges in Ecuador

Although Ecuadorian laws mandate free and universal healthcare access, the country still faces high maternal mortality rates and childbirth complications. Indigenous women often opt to give birth at home due to transportation challenges or concerns about culturally insensitive care at hospitals.

According to CARE USA, indigenous women are used to birthing in the presence of loved ones and in a vertical position, practices often restricted in hospitals. Consequently, they may struggle to recognize maternal risk signs or seek assistance for childbirth complications.

Maria’s Struggle and Daily Life

Maria tells us during our interview in Riobamba that she’s needed an operation for over 20 years. Affording it has been a challenge, especially with many children to care for. Her typical day involves walking three miles to work in a lime mine. They tend to household chores and her elderly mother, cooking late into the night, and getting only four to five hours of sleep. Her husband shares a similarly demanding schedule in the mines.

The Road to Recovery: Maria’s Journey with MEDLIFE

Once diagnosed at the Mobile Clinic, it was clear that Maria was going to need surgery and financial assistance to cover the medical costs. Always punctual and cooperative, Maria had eight medical clinic appointments consisting of check-ups and further examinations. She was accompanied to each appointment by MEDLIFE follow-up coordinator, Maria Chavez.

“I met up with Miss Chavez and she helped me through the good and the bad,” Maria told us through tears during our interview. “She helped me. I give thanks to God for her help. Even when my own children couldn’t be around because they were working far away, she was there up until the final days. Thank God that even today she is helping me, economically and emotionally.”

Progress and Hope: Maria’s Recovery

Prior to her surgery, Maria’s tests revealed several complications. This including vaginitis and possible bladder fistula (an abnormal connection between the bladder and the vagina) for which a cystography was performed. Currently, our patient is relieved of most of the pain and discomfort she had been experiencing. She is now regularly returning for medical examinations for further alteration of bladder muscles.

Through MEDLIFE’s continuous medical support and Maria’s resilience, she is on the path to recovery. This highlights the transformative impact of accessible medical care in communities like Shobol Pamba.

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