March 8, 2024

International Women’s Day

GUEST POST:  Birthday Blessings

By: Therese M. Duane, MD, MBA

Director’s Note: In honor of International Women’s Day, we are delighted to feature a guest blog by longtime FACTS supporter – Dr. Therese Duane, sister of our FACTS Executive Director Dr. Marguerite Duane. A trauma critical care surgeon, Dr. Therese Duane is dedicated to providing life-saving care to her patients in the United States and internationally! Most recently, her work has taken her to Uganda, where she serves with Mercy Trips Healthcare Outreach to provide critical care for patients, including fertility care for women.

On this day, we also want to recognize another fantastic inspiration for FACTS in Uganda – Dr. Sajel Nuwamanya, former FACTS student ambassador and current FACTS speaker and elective case study facilitator. Over the years, she and her husband have been active in medical mission work in Uganda, and we at FACTS are grateful to both Dr. Therese Duane and Dr. Sajel Nuwamanya for their work to advance authentic healthcare for women around the world!

 

As a little girl growing up in a big family, there were few things that I could actually call my own. Not only did I share a room, but my sisters and I even shared a twin bed for a long time. Going clothes shopping meant venturing into another sister’s closet for hand-me-downs, and toys belonged to whomever could run away fast enough without tripping and getting tackled by the rest of us. But there was one thing we could call our own, and that was our birthday—although I did share mine with an uncle and George Washington.

In our home, my mother made an effort to ensure each of her seven children had a special birthday. I have fond recollections of sleepovers filled with giggles, scary movies, and never enough sleep; the fun always culminated the next morning with Mickey Mouse pancakes my mother would prepare especially for me. I knew I was loved.

If someone had told me 40 years ago that I would have spent my birthdays in Uganda doing medical mission work, I’m not sure I would have believed them. And yet, here I am, turning 54 years old and celebrating in a special way.This year, instead of giggles with my girlfriends, I am getting chuckles from children who—despite being far from home undergoing painful procedures—still manage to share their smiles with strangers.

“Caring for all these families in Uganda reminds me that the gift of family is universal and precious.”

Caring for all these families reminds me that the gift of family is universal and precious. I see many women struggling with fertility with few options. Recently, a 42-year-old woman who had suffered recurrent miscarriages came to have her fibroids removed.* She was the mother of one child and was hoping to carry another pregnancy to term. Sadly, her evaluation revealed enormous tumors that were compressing her pelvic organs and causing significant pain. The only option would be removal of her uterus, rendering it impossible for her to conceive more biological children. After sharing this sad news, I could see her devastation. She left the clinic having been informed of the risks of delaying surgery but never returned, choosing to be in pain rather than accept the inevitable. Other women come in with many children, and want more, but need surgery for another complaint. These women and couples cherish the gift of family. Thus, education in fertility awareness is incredibly important for this impoverished country so that these couples can make healthy decisions for their families.

“Education in fertility awareness is incredibly important for this impoverished country so that couples can make healthy decisions for their families.”

As this birthday comes to a close, I reflect on the blessings of this day. In the span of a few short hours, I have been privileged to bring a baby boy into this world through a c-section for one patient and restore hope for another woman’s future fertility by removing a diseased ovary and preserving her other, healthy ovary. In Uganda, general surgery is certainly general — we provide our patients a wide array of services to the best of our ability. We strive to ensure that every person knows they are loved and that the gift of family is embraced, preserved, and expanded based on God’s will.

“I have been privileged to bring a baby boy into this world through a c-section for one patient and restore hope for another woman’s future fertility by removing a diseased ovary and preserving her other, healthy ovary.”

Before I rest this evening in preparation for another long day in the OR tomorrow, I will call my mother to thank her for the gift of my life and my family. And as we reminisce about Mickey Mouse pancakes, I will remind her that it was her example and that of my father’s that fostered my call to medicine. I see the same generosity of spirit in all my siblings and pray to set the right example for my four children just as my parents did for me.

 

*Director’s Note: Uterine fibroids are common in reproductive age women and are present in 5-10% of women with infertility. Learn more about this important topic and other factors that may affect a couple’s fertility at our upcoming FACTS Conference – Authentic Women’s Health: Advancing Access Across the Lifespan. Dr. Ashley Stone Womack, our very first student ambassador, will be giving a presentation, “Fibroids, To Remove or Not: An Overview of Diagnosis and Management.”  Since our Early Bird Deadline is next Friday, March 15th be sure to register today and save $50!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Therese M. Duane, MD, MBA, CPE

Therese M. Duane, MD, MBA, CPE is an accomplished trauma surgeon with a 20-year background in academic medicine, clinical care, research, healthcare administration, and teaching. She has recently added mission work to her interests and found a new passion. Dr. Duane earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from State University of New York at Buffalo. After completing her residency in general surgery at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, she went on to complete a surgical critical care fellowship at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. She later completed a Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and earned the Certified Physician Executive distinction from the American Association for Physician Leadership.

Pin It on Pinterest