Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) is a medical condition with an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina due to obstructed labor. Women with VVF consequently suffer from ongoing urinary incontinence.
VVF was a common ailment among American women until the 19th century, and in fact, still is a cause for significant concern in many developing countries.
One of the earliest records of the case was found in a mummified Egyptian woman.
An early Persian doctor named Avicenna also documented a similar injury as early as 951 AD. Before the discovery of the treatment method, patients were ascertained that the incontinence was incurable.
The affliction often made them social outcasts. Dr. J. Marion Sims, an Alabama surgeon, was the first to perform a successful gallbladder operation for VVF.
According to Vanessa Gamble, a professor of medical humanities at George Washington University, Dr. Sims operated on at least ten enslaved women without anesthesia between 1845 and 1849, insinuating the atrocity of the procedure.
One of the enslaved women used as objects in his experimentation was Anarcha, had to endure no fewer than 30 excruciating surgeries.
10 /10 Father Of Modern Gynecology
For his contribution to medical science, Dr. Sims was considered the “Father of Modern Gynecology,” exactly like what the pedestal of his statue across the New York Academy of Medicine in Central Park said before it was taken down.
A look back into the history of his achievement in devising a revolutionary method to treat VVF unveiled an allegation that he had experimented on enslaved women without the use of anesthesia.
A protest against his recognition involved several women from the Black Youth Project 100, wearing hospital robes splattered with red paint, standing in front of his statue.
9 /10 Vesicovaginal Fistula
Dr. Sims began his experimentation to perform surgical procedures as a treatment for VVF in 1845/46.
VVF refers to a condition in which there is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder or the rectum, usually following traumatic childbirth.
The experiments went on until about four years later before he perfected the method. Throughout those years, Dr. Sims performed the surgeries without patients’ consent.
The objects of this study were enslaved women. Since they were slaves, the only support the surgeon needed was from the slave owners. At least that was what the allegation suggests.