Years ago, in different places, two doctors came across one experience that completely changed their lives. Dr Reham Awwad was only an intern in Med school, and Dr Amr Seifeldin was a Ob/Gyn resident, when they both went through the shock of seeing a lady with Type 3 female genital mutilation (FGM), or what’s commonly called Pharaonic circumcision, and wondered why any parent would commit such a terrible crime to his/her daughter.
Dr. Reham Awwad is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has a special interest in genital aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, while Dr. Amr Seifeldin has been a gynecologist for 36 years, with a sub-specialty in urogynecology and cosmetic gynecology. These are the cofounders of Restore FGM, the first multidisciplinary treatment center for survivors of FGM in Egypt.
Upon starting her master’s degree, Dr. Awwad chose clitoral reconstruction after FGM for her thesis topic, and while it was a challenge for her in Egypt, as women barely knew that this surgery even existed, she overcame that obstacle and discovered that this was the path she wished to pursue.
“I tracked down Dr. Amr Seifeldin, since he was the only one who had vast experience doing this surgery, not only in Egypt, but the world, and asked him if he could train me. I was also able to speak to him about the dream I had to open a multidisciplinary center for women with FGM to help them heal physically as well as psychologically from the trauma of going through FGM, and it turned out that he had the exact same dream,” said Dr. Awwad.
And Restore FGM was born.
Although FGM is still quite prevalent in Egyptian society, there have been several efforts and campaigns advocating against this practice. Dr. Awwad explained that change is happening, and it’s seen in women who suffered in their lives because of FGM, and thus, chose not to continue this practice with their daughters.
“We need better education, awareness, and improved socio-economic status of practicing communities,” said Dr. Seifeldin. “We strive to provide an honest, simple and professional resolution to all complications of FGM victims,” he added.
“We have seen the effect the surgery (clitoral reconstruction) has had, not only on the women’s functional health but also on her psychology and how treating her trauma through psychological therapy can also help improve her sexual and functional health. They are all intertwined and just as important as each other. We also try to focus on educating all of our patients on their anatomy and how it functions because this is essential as well,” concluded Dr. Awwad.
Both founders are committed to helping as many women as possible, and providing their services at an affordable price for those in need. In the future, they hope to provide sexual health classes for their patients, in addition to support groups to help these women move forward.