Back to Africa

By: Dwayne Wilder
Back to Africa! On Sunday, Dr. Darius Maggi will be making his 42nd trip to Africa; and he’s just as excited as ever. “We will be doing surgeries again,” explained the retired Denison physician. “We have 30 scheduled and at least 20 more on the waiting list.” Maggi is one of the founders of the West African Fistula Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps the women of Africa with basic obstetric care. Maggi has been going to Ghana and Sierra Leone since March 2001 to do free surgeries. “I’ll be gone about four weeks,” explained Maggi. “This will be my fourth trip to Kakua and the new facility.” The foundation has improved on its facilities since Maggi started working with the impoverished African women. The group started in the Bo Government Hospital, but recently moved into a former HIV facility that was renovated to house the medical operation. “I love helping those women,” said Maggi. “It is muchly needed.” The ‘fistula’ in the organization’s name is the medical term for ‘hole,’ most prevalent in the blatter of pregnant women. In the United States and most of the Western World, there are services in place to repair such a condition, but not in Africa. “Women can’t control their urinary tract; it leads to shame and is taboo around Africa, but it afflicts so many women because there is no treatment for it,” explained Maggi. “We give them their lives back with a simple procedure.” Maggi estimates that he has repaired 1500+ fistulas and has done more than 2,000 operations in Africa in the past 15 years. It is well-worth his time and effort, he noted. “To see those women’s faces on the follow up visits just makes my heart full,” smiled Maggi. “They are so happy, it makes me happy.” In Sierra Leona, where the WAFF Hospital is, there are now 45 employees and a doctor from England, Dr. Paul Robinson, who handles the administration and logistics of the facility. There are about 50 beds. Last summer, Maggi visited Sierra Leone for a trip just after the country was declared free of the Ebola virus by the WHO. A couple of days before his flight, a new case was diagnosed, but Maggi went anyway. “You just have to protect yourself; there’s always a chance,” said Maggi. “If you hesitate, you will never do anything. It’s (Ebola) still around, but that’s just part of it.” After returning last year, Maggi voluntarily quarantined himself for the required three weeks to make sure he didn’t contract the deadly disease.

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