This Mother’s Day, Give a Mother the Gift of Life

This Mother’s Day, Give a Mother the Gift of Life

In honor of Mother’s Day 2014, we are featuring one of our recommended charities, The Fistula Foundation.

Childbirth should be a joyous event, but for some 1,000,000 women worldwide, it has resulted in the development of an obstetric fistula* which leads to ostracism and social isolation.

The root causes of fistula are grinding poverty and the low status of women and girls. Extreme poverty and malnutrition in children in developing countries contributes to the condition of stunting, keeping a girl’s skeleton (and therefore pelvis) from reaching full maturity. This stunted condition can contribute to obstructed labor, and therefore fistula. Another major contributor is simple lack of access to medical care.

Obstetric fistula is both preventable and treatable. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of trained surgeons and money to pay for surgeries, only about 20,000 women receive surgery for this condition annually, or one of every 50 women in need. The surgery is estimated to cost only $450 USD (less than a typical night’s stay in a U.S. hospital) and is about 90% effective. The Fistula Foundation is working effectively to provide corrective surgery to more mothers, who are primarily very young and living in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. By donating to The Fistula Foundation, you can help give these mothers the chance to have productive, enjoyable lives instead of the alternative: rejection from their communities and husbands, and sometimes, death. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day!

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* An obstetric fistula of the kind that occurs in many developing countries is a hole between a woman’s vagina and her bladder or rectum resulting from obstructed labor that is left unrelieved and untreated. The condition causes urine and feces incontinence. In the United States and other affluent countries, emergency obstetric care for obstructed labor is readily available. In many developing countries where there are few hospitals, few doctors, and poor transportation systems, obstructed labor often results in death of the mother. If she survives, there is a great likelihood her child will die and she will develop a fistula, resulting in permanent incontinence of urine and/or feces.

Fistula used to be prevalent in the U.S. and Europe, but was nearly eliminated in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century thanks to improved obstetric care and the use of C-sections to relieve obstructed labor.

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About the author:

Charles Bresler

Co-founder, Board Member

After earning a PhD in Social and Clinical Psychology, Charlie Bresler became director of behavioral medicine for The California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno (CSPP-F), where he was a full-time professor and founder of a teaching clinic for anxiety & stress disorders. In 1993, he was recruited by The Men’s Wearhouse, where he went on to be head of human resources, stores, marketing, and, ultimately, president. He stepped down in 2008 to fulfill his long-standing desire to work directly on social and economic issues, not too long after he read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save. Catalyzed by the concept, Charlie reached out to Peter and proposed combining Peter’s theory with the formation of a nonprofit to advance Peter’s ideas and to raise money for high-impact, cost-effective organizations. Together, they founded The Life You Can Save, where Charlie took on all organizational operations as executive director until 2024. He was supported in this work and in his financial support for the organization by his wife Diana, a family physician, and executed the role pro bono.

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.