Missing a Piece of the Puzzle: Khadidja’s Story
25 year old Khadidja was born with bladder exstrophy in Zighoud Youcef, Constantine, Algeria, and has never had any type of closure or reconstructive surgery.
Khadidja’s childhood memories are mostly of struggle. She often leaked urine and kids her age always made fun of her. They criticized her for how she walked, and how her thighs never looked as “normal” as theirs. Having to go to school, to go out, to go on trips everyday with the anxiety of leaking, being laughed at, and bullied by others for not having the same body anatomy has been the hardest part of living with bladder exstrophy.
Support From a Loving Family
The bright spots came from her supportive family. She often went out to play with other kids, went to the beach, went to school, and even participated in plays despite her condition.
Khadidja lives with her mother and has been trying to be the rock of the family since her father passed away two years ago from cardiac arrest during the covid pandemic. Although she is the youngest child (she has two older brothers), she takes on most responsibilities including the cooking and cleaning because her mother suffers from heart disease.
Khandidja feels blessed to have a couple of friends and two close friends whom she told about her condition. They were surprisingly supportive, which is something she did not experience much with friendships. She absolutely loves reading and finds herself getting lost in various forms of art. Having BE made her fall in love with painting, then drawing, then writing, then reading which has become her refuge from the world.
Ready to Live a Complete Life
As a young woman, she longs to travel, to live and be among others without constant thoughts of feeling different. Last year Khandidja stumbled upon the A-BE-C website. Because she lives in an under-developed country, she never knew that a life changing surgery existed. She shared, “I haven’t truly discovered myself as a person. I always felt like something in me was missing, the last piece of the puzzle, and I believe finding out that there are people like me is comforting enough.”
Now, for the first time in her life, Khandidja will finally be able to think about getting married, having children, and finally experience what it feels like to be a complete woman.
About the Armenia Medical Mission
Since 2011, pediatric urologist Paul Merguerian, MD, has taken his skills to Arabkir Medical Center in Yerevan, Armenia, on a medical mission to provide assistance with and management of complicated pediatric urological issues.
In an ongoing collaboration between the Urology division at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) and Arabkir Medical Center, the goal of the mission participants is to both perform complex surgical procedures and, perhaps more importantly, to train junior doctors how to perform these procedures themselves. Arabkir Medical Center is the largest pediatric medical services provider in Armenia. With your help, Khadidja will receive life-changing surgery during this workshop.