West Allis doctor's passion extends beyond ocean

Posted at 9:29 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 13:33:27-04

WEST ALLIS - There are hundreds if not thousands of women in Bangladesh who suffer in silence.

With literally no access to healthcare, many of these women live a life of intolerable pain and discomfort.

"Most of the women we see that have prolapse everything is inside out," recalls Dr. Tracy Capes.

Capes, a urogynecologist, recorded her journey to a remote region of Bangladesh on video. She and her team performed life-changing surgery.

"This is the room where we interview and examine all the patients. As you can see, [it's]  pretty small," she said.

Uterine prolapse is a condition where the muscles holding the uterus collapse or weaken, most commonly after childbirth or heavy lifting.

The days aboard this floating hospital are long on  the Brahmaputra River.

Day four: "We have done seventeen cases so far.  All have been severe stage three or four, so they required pretty extensive reconstruction."

Some of the patients with severe cases  have been abandoned by their husbands. Because of a lack of education women themselves don't even know what has happened to their bodies.

"The husband thinks that the woman has been cheating on them and the prolapsed is a sign of that that is happening. And then the husband has left them the rest of the family won't care for them."

Five years ago, Dr. Capes along with two other surgeons and a midwife started the project, "A stitch in time."

Though they worked in different hospitals across the country,  they all shared a commitment to make gynecological health care available to women in need.   

Dr. Capes and the team are able to provide this service at no cost to the patients by volunteering their time and using donated medical supplies.

"We are taking something that is ten-twenty thousand and bring it down to three hundred to five-hundred dollars," she said. 

Then, Dr. Capes started her rounds walking a narrow plank to shore, where her patients  continue to receive care, a far cry from a hospital stay in the United States.

The shelter is built of corrugated sheet metal. The women are resting on wooden slats for beds as their loved ones watch over them.

It is this selfless work and the doctor's passion for women's health that makes her proud to serve the community in West Allis and beyond.

"As the world changes its important that we keep our eyes open and our hearts open and realize it is not as easy for people around the world," she said.

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