×
The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Restoring dignity of FGM survivors through surgery

Health & Science
 Dr Abdullahi Adan, Consultant : Plastic , Reconstructive and Aesthetic /General Surgeon at Platinum Surgery Centre. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It's 3pm and despite the fact that my appointment with Dr Adan Abdullahi is at 2pm, I have been patiently waiting in the lobby of the quiet, calm, and peaceful Platinum Clinic Centre. It's so quiet that I think I'm in the wrong surgery centre for a moment.

A recheck confirms, however, that this is the location of the surgery clinic, which is performing 50 surgical reversals of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). I confirm with the receptionist that, despite the eerie atmosphere, the surgeries are still taking place.

During my wait, I do some research on Dr Marci Bowers and discover that she is one of the few surgeons in the world who performs surgical reversals of FGM.

Bowers is also a world authority on functional clitoral restoration following FGM and cutting. She has travelled to Kenya twice (in 2017 and 2018) to perform the procedure on a few fortunate FGM survivors and to train local surgeons in Clitoral Restoration Surgery.

Dr Abdullahi is also one of the few surgeons in Kenya who performs clitoris surgical reversal on FGM survivors. He is the driving force behind the Restore Pink Plus initiative.

Clitoroplasty surgery, he says, restores the survivors' identity and dignity.

At 3.32pm, two doctors in blue overalls and white headgear emerge from the surgery room. One of them approaches me and introduces himself as Dr Abdullahi, followed by Dr Bowers from California, USA.

Then Dr Abdullahi leads me to a large office. Nothing in the office reveals anything about the unusual surgeries that just took place. There is total privacy.

Within seconds, I'm chatting with the two easygoing doctors on a personal level, which makes the subject we're discussing more comfortable for me as we get into the specifics of the surgeries.

According to Dr Bowers, the words vagina, clitoris, labia, and "the cut" are not used in public in the United States.

Dr Bowers first describes the main subject of the surgery - the clitoris - before delving into the complexities of the surgery.

“The clitoris is an extraordinary organ of pleasure boasting the most nerve endings of all the human body (8,000 nerve endings),” says the surgeon.

She went on to say that the clit has been marginalised in society for millennia due to religious dogma that condemns women's sexual pleasure.

Bowers said the clitoris has been poorly studied and misrepresented, and that it has only been completely mapped in the last 10 years.

According to her, echography studies revealed that the clitoris, which is made of this erectile tissue wrapped around the vulva and the pelvic floor, can reach eight inches in length - which is why a mutilated clitoris can be restored.

Under the Annual Mission Charity Camp, Bowers and Abdullahi have performed more than 300 clitoral restoration procedures for FGM survivors.

Bowers first visited Kenya in March 2017 at the invitation of Dr Abdullahi and in collaboration with the San Francisco-based non-profit Clitoraid.

Her trip was to provide services to FGM survivors and to train Kenyan surgeons to perform the rare surgery.

On this day, Bowers, Abdullahi, and a team of eight doctors who have been trained to perform the surgery with health care support performed 10 surgeries, the final batch of the 50 scheduled for the four-day surgeries that began on Monday.

This week's surgeries bring the total number of people who have had this surgery to more than 350, excluding those who have had clitoral restoration surgery in private (it costs between Sh150,000-Sh180,000). 

"These women have been mutilated in such an intimate part of their bodies, and Dr Bowers is very sensitive to that, sensitive to how they feel, and sensitive to what they are trying to achieve," Dr Abdullahi explains.

The patients are eager to share their stories, and as we conclude our insightful discussion, Dr Abdullahi directs me to the "dignified women" at Recovery Ward 1.

A quick count results in a bed capacity of 10 cubicles. The surgery lasts about an hour, and the patient must rest for three to four hours before being allowed to go home.

So far, none of the 10 patients have experienced complications. 

Some of the survivors are as young as 20 years and as old as 47 years, some are single, married or divorced. Some have brought themselves, while friends, relatives, and husbands accompany others.

"The patient is fully recovered and can enjoy the fruits of the reconstruction surgery after six weeks."

Related Topics


.

Trending Now

.

Popular this week