Ayana had been in labor for three days and still the baby refused to come. In her struggle to give him life, she developed a fistula, or hole, between her birth passage and her internal organs. She fortunately survived but her body was broken by childbirth.

Obstetric fistula is a serious problem in the world’s poorest countries, where most mothers give birth without any medical help. In Ethiopia, where Ayana lives, there are at least 100,000 women every year who suffer a similar fate, yet fistulas can be repaired—and lives restored—for relatively little money.

Knowing the profound difference these surgeries can make, three compassionate Nurse-Midwives from the Panorama City Kaiser Permanente—Sandra Wilkinson, Rosemary Occhiygrosso and Virginia Gladwin—decided to raise $5000 for the Fistula Foundation. They tackled their goal with so much heart and gusto that they ended up raising $15000 (that’s 37 surgeries!) helped, in part, by auctioning off a beautiful quilt made by nurse practitioner Ann Allison. They’re now on their way to raising another $30000—that’s 75 more lives changed forever.

Their donations will also be used to train Nurse-Midwives who can help safely deliver babies and prevent future injuries.

“We want women everywhere to live happy, normal lives,” says Sandra. “We’re thrilled to be able to help.”


From left: Ginny Gladwin, CNM; Rosemary Occhiogrosso, CNM; Ann Allison, CRNP; Sandra Wilkinson, CNM/RNP