Hobart alum Emanuel Trabuco ’90 is one of a team of six doctors from the Mayo Clinic who perform pro-bono surgeries on women in the Democratic Republic of Congo to correct pelvic prolapsed and incontinence. The rate of pelvic prolapsed and severe incontinence in the Congo is alarmingly high due to complications that arise from pregnancies and childbirth following rape.
Trabuco works at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, where he specializes in urogynecology. It was a colleague of his who first learned of the plight of the Congolese women.
“After learning about the horrific conditions of women’s lives in Congo, we at the Mayo Clinic knew we had to take action. Although we may not be able to prevent the rapes and injustice that women in Congo endure, we can hopefully provide them with relief, particularly in relation to pelvic prolapsed and incontinence,” says Trabuco.
According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 women and girls have been victims of rape or sexual assault in Congo throughout the last 15 years. Many young women, less than 18 years old in many cases, are commonly impregnated as a result of the rape. Because of both malnutrition and an immature pelvis, many experience obstructed labor and injury that results in permanent incontinence.
The team of six doctors visited the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time in November 2010. During their visit, they saw patients, performed a number of corrective surgeries, and met with local physicians to find long-term strategies to help Panzi Hospital. Prior to the trip, the team sent much needed supplies to the hospital.
“I am in awe at the skills and dedication of the African surgeons. It is amazing what they accomplish with such limited resources,” says Trabuco. Among the surgeons he worked with is Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has been performing these surgeries for more than a decade.
The Mayo team is continuing to collaborate with the Panzi Hospital to provide much needed supplies and is starting to investigate how to prevent the damaged bladder from occurring. The group has also brought a Congolese surgeon to the Mayo Clinic to train in clinical research. The local physician population has been decimated by the civil war and academic training is imperative to ensure funding by Congolese and African agencies.
“There weren’t any particular courses that helped pave my passion for this issue. However, I had many people and professors who really helped me when I was going through difficult times. I consider this my way of paying it forward,” explains Trabuco.
He also hopes that his work will serve to educate others about the dire need for relief for females in Congo and women and girls throughout the world. He hopes his efforts and those of his colleagues will serve as a call to action for those who wish to prevent the horrific events that take place globally every single day.
Trabuco graduated summa cum laude from Hobart with a B.S. in biology. While a student, he conducted research with retired Professor of Biology and Distinguished Faculty Award recipient Joel Kerlan. Trabuco was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate honors organization. He attended medical school at the University of Colorado in Denver, Colo., and did his residency at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Fla.
In the photo above, Trabuco talks to a fellow alum during Reunion 2011.