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The Hospital by the River


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Catherine Hamlin and her now deceased husband, Reg, began the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia, which has become a major teaching institution for surgeons from all over the developing world. As well as being made a Companion of the Order of Australia, being award the ANZAC Peace Prize and the coveted Gold Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons, Catherine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.


Hamlin and her late husband, Reg, devoted most of their adult lives to practicing obstetrics among Ethiopia's rural poor, where inadequate medical care and bad road conditions made childbirth a risky endeavor. Obstructed labor-frequently lasting five days or longer-resulted in the death of a vast number of babies and caused incontinence in the mothers, who then became outcasts and beggars. In this chronicle of her work in Ethiopia, Hamlin tells of how she and Reg perfected the technique of surgically repairing this damage, operating on more than 25,000 women, most of whom were then able to lead normal lives. Several specialized themes create odd juxtapositions: explicit descriptions of obstructed childbirth, incontinence, and desperate poverty are interspersed with genteel accounts of visits with kings and queens, assorted denizens of high society, Ethiopian brigadiers, and the like. Hamlin sees her service as part of the missionary tradition that her grandparents began, and at the age of 77, she continues to practice by performing surgery, training Ethiopian doctors and midwives, raising money for the hospital she founded, and beginning each morning with prayers and Bible study in her house of mud and sticks. This moving account is recommended for public libraries and specialized collections on women's studies and obstetrics/midwifery.-Noemie Maxwell, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Rich in detail, full of jarring contrasts [wealth and poverty for example], and profoundly inspiring, this is missionary memoir at its best. Be warned: You'll be moved to open your heart and your wallet."-- (05/01/2005)
"Fascinating memoirs of Dr. Hamlin and her late husband, Dr. Reg Hamlin, who have been saving women's lives in Ethiopia since 1959. Though some medical descriptions are not for the faint at heart, extraordinary stories of the once hopeless ""fistula pilgrims"" are inspiration for other Christian doctors called to far corners of the world."-- (06/01/2005)
"Almost four decades after her work began, it's understandable why Hamlin has been called 'The new Mother Teresa for our age' by the New York Times, and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. This fascinating account of Dr. Hamlin's work will break your heart -- and offer hope that even the worst circumstance can be changed if we care enough to help. Keep the Kleenex handy."-- (05/01/2005)
"Rich in detail, full of jarring contrasts (wealth and poverty, for example), and profoundly inspiring, this is missionary memoir at its best. Be warned: You'll be moved to open your heart and your wallet."-- (10/31/2006)

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