Northwestern Medicine Doctor Leads Medical Mission to Africa

Northwestern Medicine
Urology July 21, 2017

Dr. Stephanie Kielb, urologist and female pelvic reconstructive surgeon, and Dr. Anne-Marie Boller, colon and rectal surgeon, recently visited Rwanda, an east African county to treat obstetric fistulas at Kibagabaga District Hospital. A fistula is an abnormal connection between the urinary tract or bowel and the vagina, resulting in constant leakage of urine or stool. Dr. Kielb serves on the medical advisory board for the organization and was this year’s mission leader overseeing the entire medical team of more than 30 practitioners and surgeons, triaging patients and arranging surgical scheduling.

kielb-with-studens

The pair are members of the International Organization for Women (IOWD), a non-profit charity dedicated to providing underserved women in low-income countries with free specialized surgery and care, working closely with the Rwandan ministry of health. They also work with Rwandan residents and medical students, teaching surgical skills and, importantly, fistula prevention.

Mother and daughter

IOWD has taken trips to Rwanda for the past 8 years. The group was able to evaluate 170 patients. “It is truly an honor to be involved with such a wonderful organization,” said Dr. Kielb. “These women are often ostracized from their family and communities due to fistula and without IOWD they would have no access to care. I am thrilled I can utilize my skills to help restore their dignity”.

With child patient

This was Dr. Kielb’s fifth mission trip and Dr. Boller’s first. The pair plans to continue self-funding their trip to Rwanda and teaching the students their proper techniques. Dr. Kielb and Dr. Boller are both part of Northwestern Medicine’s Women’s Integrated Pelvic Health Program, with locations at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lake Forest Hospital. To learn more, visit urology.nm.org.