Local Doctor Runs Triathlon To Save Women A World Away

Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith Travels to Sierra Leone to Help Women Recover the Lives They've Lost

Feb 14, 2013, 13:48 ET from The Woman's Hospital of Texas

HOUSTON, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday February 16th, Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith, a Houston-area obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) and founder of Complete Women's Care Center, will make her first trip to the West African country of Sierra Leone. Dr. Hardwick-Smith will make the trek in conjunction with the Texas based West Africa Fistula Foundation (WAFF), to help bring an end to the devastating effects of Obstetric Fistula.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130214/DA60645)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121205/DA24802LOGO-b)

"As a doctor in this wonderful country I am constantly aware of how very lucky we are," said Hardwick-Smith. "While many of us complain about our healthcare system, most of us have access to at least basic healthcare.  We expect a safe, good outcome from normal events like having a baby. But for many women in Sierra Leone in West Africa, having a baby is a truly dangerous business with maternal and neonatal death rates among the highest in the world. Horrific complications such as fistula formation―the development of a hole between the bladder or rectum and vagina― causing permanent and constant fecal or urinary leakage, are common."

Many of the 2–3 million women who suffer from fistulas worldwide are ostracized by the communities that they live in and their husbands often abandon them to fend for themselves.

"I feel passionately that I have a duty to help these women with the skills that I have developed as an OB/GYN in this country," said Hardwick-Smith. "And that includes helping to educate local healthcare providers in Sierra Leone to understand how to prevent fistula formation as well as how to perform the surgical repair needed to help the women already suffering."

Hardwick-Smith pays for her own travel expenses and donates her services –but she wanted to do more. Even with services and travel donated, the surgical procedures cost nearly $1,000 per woman, plus the WAFF provides not only badly needed medical treatment, but also a working staff within the country to establish local care and treatment for this terrible condition.

Funds donated to the WAFF help to provide:

  • Treatment for ongoing cases
  • Preoperative hostel for waiting patients
  • Education to help prevent fistula
  • Postoperative treatment and care
  • Reintegration into society through vocational school or enterprise training

To say that Dr. Hardwick-Smith is driven is an understatement. When she does something, she does it BIG. She is the founder of a busy ten-provider OB/GYN practice, is a renowned obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon, wife, mother of three (two of the three are twins), marathon runner and now Ironman triathlete.

"I decided to train for the Ironman to raise awareness about the plight of these women in Sierra Leone," said Hardwick-Smith. "Let's face it, training and competing in an Ironman triathlon event (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile marathon) could rank up among the most selfish activities in the world. Months of training upward of 12 hours a week mean those hours are taken away from friends and family.  But thinking about those women and their incredible suffering fueled me, my family, my friends and my associates. Doing something really challenging, overwhelming and often painful to help others is a spiritual journey–one we were all willing to take."

On November 18, 2012, sporting a shirt she had made featuring the West Africa Fistula Foundation logo, Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith crossed the finish line in 12 hours, 45 minutes having raised more than $31,000 and carrying in her heart the hopes of millions of women that they would not be forgotten.

For interview, photography or videography opportunities, please call Kris Muller at 713-852-1563 or 713-805-4624 (mobile).

To make a donation to the West Africa Fistula Foundation visit http://www.westafricafistulafoundation.org

About Complete Women's Care Center

Complete Women's Care Center (CWCC) is an all-female practice offering a full range of obstetric and gynecologic services, and care for women at all phases of the life spectrum.  We have two convenient locations; in the Texas Medical Center and in Pearland, and provide the highest level of care in beautifully appointed facilities. We offer the most up-to-date testing and surgical procedures–including laparoscopic, laser and robotic surgery, vaginal and incontinence surgery, Novasure endometrial ablation, Essure permanent sterilization, infertility procedures and ultrasounds. CWCC is focused on providing the highest level of service, practicing only the best medicine, educating ourselves and our patients continuously, and never cutting corners. We seek ways to create a positive and memorable experience in every interaction and surround ourselves with a warm, caring attitude rich in smiles, kindness and compassion. For more information visit us at CompleteWomensCareCenter.com, give us a call at 713-791-9100 or visit our Facebook Page.

About the Woman's Hospital of Texas

The Woman's Hospital of Texas is an acute care hospital located near the Texas Medical Center. The hospital was established in 1976 by a group of physicians who recognized the need for a facility focused solely on the care of women and infants. In keeping with this vision, Woman's offers a full range of women's services, including breakthrough developments in minimally invasive surgery such as Robotic Surgery, and urogynecology The hospital has an antepartum unit, 36 labor and delivery rooms, a medical surgical unit and 124-bed Levels II and III Neonatal Intensive Care nurseries. Since its inception, Woman's has welcomed over 200,000 babies into the world and delivers more babies in Houston than any other hospital. Our experienced physicians specialize in high-risk deliveries, from handling preemies weighing less than 1,500 grams to offering a comprehensive Multiples Clinic for women having twins, triplets, or more.  In addition, the Woman's Hospital of Texas was twice named a top performer in quality measures by the Joint Commission, and has been designated as a Center of Excellence for Continence Care in Women by the National Association for Continence. Visit our website at www.womanshospital.com.

Media Contact:
Kris Muller
713-805-4624 (mobile)

SOURCE The Woman's Hospital of Texas