The dress

There are not many patients in Mandritsara who can’t find someone to accompany them to the hospital.

Most can find a family member, or a good friend, who will cook, clean, change sheets and do other personal care, but E had no friends or family and was completely rejected.

Nineteen years ago, married and full of hope for her life and future, she went into labour in her village, but sadly, things didn’t go as hoped.

Photo by Adrian Butcher

Three days later, her baby was stillborn and she developed obstetric fistula, which meant she wasn’t able to control the flow of urine, resulting in a perpetual foul smell.

“We regularly see women who’ve been left by their husbands and no one wants to associate with any more. These are some of the most ostracised patients we see,” says lead surgeon Ted Watts, who’s been serving with SIM UK at the hospital since 2017.

For nearly 20 years, E had lived with this devastating condition and bravely made her way across the country three times to have an operation. Each time, her hopes were dashed as the surgeries weren’t successful. Each time, her spirit was a little more bruised.

When she came to the Good News Hospital, E was cautious.

“She was afraid to hope, but so happy to hear that we would try to help her,” recalls Ted. “We found a local lady who was happy to help look after her in hospital and we planned the surgery.”

The operation took three-and-a-half hours and E spent 14 days in hospital allowing everything to heal before doctors did a ‘dye-test’ to see if the repair had worked.

Ted with E following her successful surgery

E knew the routine this was her fourth time and she knew how much hung on the result of the dye test.

“When we went back to theatre to do the test, as she was waiting, E simple said to me, ‘Doctor, I’m afraid.’ She knew how much the results of this test would set the direction for the rest of her life,” adds Ted.

There was no leak.

“Fistula surgery is a massive emotional roller coaster for the surgeon to bear the weight of the hopes of these ladies; to share in their delight when they are healed; but feeling responsible if they are not.

“As I told E the news, she broke down with tears of joy and of relief after 19 long years of rejection. We all cried and praised God for his grace,” says Ted.

As a parting gift, E was given a new dress to take home, lovingly made by women in the community.

“We’ve been privileged over the last couple of years to see an number of those women responding in faith and to see them embracing not only a new life physically, but a new eternal life,” says Ted.

“We also want that dress to be a picture of the new life that Jesus holds out to them, who’s not ashamed to lift up their heads and say you’re a daughter of the King. And whatever we can do in this hospital to demonstrate that to these women is hugely powerful.”

If you are interested in joining this mission-centred medical ministry, please contact Ted Watts at [email protected]

By Kerry Allan

Ted is the senior surgeon at the Good News Hospital, whilst his wife Rachel works in paediatrics. In 2020, Ted led the team to build a new operating theatre complex and began to work on a new vision to train Malagasy surgeons. Read how these exciting plans came to fruition and how they will ensure the hospital’s future.

Listen to ‘The Dress’

a SIM Stories audio story

Warning: contains graphic content

Please pray

The Good News Hospital
  • Thank God for E’s healing.
  • For God to bless this mission-centred medical ministry in Madagascar.
  • That he will help Ted to lead in a Christ-like, servant-hearted way that blesses the team and brings glory to God. 

This was posted on 6 March 2023 in Ministry stories.
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