Local Colorado Doctor to perform unique surgery

آذار 19 2009, تصنيف: International NEWS
By Nancy Ellis
For The Times Independent
Dr. Marci Bowers relaxes along a Parisian waterway during her trip to learn a reconstructive surgical procedure. Special to TI
Recently returned from a trip to Paris, Dr. Marci Bowers couldn't help but comment on a few of that famous city's many amenities. But her real purpose for traveling such a great distance from Trinidad was actually quite serious: A second training with Dr. Pierre Foldes, a surgeon who has pioneered reconstructive surgery of the clitoris after ritual excision.

Often referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM), or female circumcision, the practice is common worldwide, especially in many East African and some Islamic cultures. There are more than 120 million women worldwide who have undergone the procedure, according to Clitoraid, an international nonprofit organization that recruited Bowers for the training. Often performed by family members without anesthesia and using a knife, the edge of a can or even a piece of broken glass, FGM has many cultural and religious ramifications, but its primary intention is to curb the female sex drive.

Bowers traveled to Paris to train with Foldes the first time in April of 2007, when she observed eight separate surgeries. This time, she saw 11 of Foldes' surgeries at the Louis XIV Hospital in Saint-Germain en Laye, about 15 miles west of Paris. Bowers was especially interested in learning details of the pre-op and post-op care.

"It (the training) has been extremely enlightening to me," says Bowers of her time spent with the Hungarian-born urologist Foldes, whom she refers to as a "great humanitarian." The reconstructive surgery "is well within the scope of what I already do. It is actually one of the simpler procedures."

The subject of FGM is a complex one, Bowers cautions, "and it's easy to judge. We, as a society, need to be more humble," especially coming from a country that routinely circumcises male babies. "But, it's easy to get emotional about it (FGM) when you hear some of those stories.

"The strange part is that female circumcision doesn't really do what is intended very well," according to Bowers, because female erectile tissue is not just confined to the clitoris. "It actually goes all the way back to the uterus," she says. "The areas of arousal are much the same as they are for men; female tissues are remarkably similar in purpose."

The restorative surgery is undertaken to enable a sense of pleasure for these women, who are often are extensively scarred and have never experienced anything but pain during sexual intercourse. Between 3,000 and 4,000 reversals have been performed worldwide, according to Clitoraid, with approximately 2,500 of them by Foldes.

A press release issued by Clitoraid, which is based in Las Vegas, announced that its first U.S. clitoral reconstructive surgeries will be performed in Trinidad by Bowers March 27, "who has volunteered her services." Bowers says she has been contacted by six women in the last month who desire the surgery, three are Africans who have been living in the United states, and the other three are from Canada.

"My main focus, in more than 20 years in OB-GYVN, has always been on women's health care issues," says Bowers. The hardest part of adding yet another subspecialty to her repertoire of medical services will be finding the time.

But anyone who knows Bowers knows she'll find it somehow: "I'm just doing this because it needs to be done."