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  • Terrewode Women's Fund

‘I love every single bit of being a doctor’

Dr. Mary Aono has an extraordinary way of connecting with patients, helping them feel at ease. There’s something warmly reassuring about her presence, a way of caring for others that she’s practiced her entire life. 

During playtime as a little girl, she used to pretend she was attending to patients delivering babies, just like her grandmother, who was a midwife. When other children and her siblings got cuts or scrapes, young Mary would treat the wounds, applying herbs her grandmother had taught her about.

She excelled in school and earned a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Makerere University in the capital city of Kampala, where she grew up. After medical school, she interned at Arua Regional Referral Hospital. 

“It was during this time that I realized I wanted to specialize in women's health, because of how much joy serving the mothers gave me,” Dr. Aono, who joined Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital as medical director in March 2023, recalled of her internship. 

“Much as the work load was enormous, I never once felt irritated with the midnight calls,” she added, “and I was always glad to be able to help yet another mother, even when I would be physically exhausted.”

After two years as a general practitioner, Dr. Aono returned to Makerere University for her residency, where she worked day and night, sometimes getting to bed in the very early hours of the morning, only to be called back to the hospital after just an hour's rest to help another mother deliver. Yet she felt eager to run back. That’s when she realized she wanted to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. 

“I’m very passionate about the patients. It’s the best part of my work—being there for them, giving them the best that I can, making them feel at home and loved, cared for, valued—this is what really warms my heart,” she said.

I love every single bit of being a doctor, and if I had five lives, I would still do medicine in all the five lives.

Dr. Aono had an easy time deciding to join the staff at Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital. “The moment I came to visit and I saw the patients, I knew I wanted to work here,” she said. “I wanted to start work there and then.”

She has an office at the hospital, but doesn’t spend much time there. Whenever she can, she walks through the ward to spend time with patients. She speaks four languages and is always working to learn more from the patients. “I really enjoy being with them and I try my best to learn a bit of all the different languages, at the very least the greeting because I want them to feel comfortable,” she said. 

“Sometimes I find a patient who is sad,” she added, “or sometimes they are depressed, so I want them to feel free to share whatever is disturbing them to make them feel at home and make them feel loved. Because women with fistulas, many of them are not used to being shown love.”

Dr. Aono loves working at a hospital where patients receive state-of-the-art fistula treatment free of charge. “Here we are able to give the patient the very best,” she said. “If they need a test, we don’t have to worry if they can afford it.”

She wants “to see an end to fistula and other child birth injuries for women, in Uganda and the region at large, and to see these women empowered and rise above all the limitations that have been placed upon them by society, or their medical condition.”

Dr. Aono is excited about  plans to add maternity care at Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital. “As much as we are focused on treating fistula, I think we really need to focus on preventing fistula, and that’s where Phase 2 becomes very important. We are designing it to be a model so that the Ministry of Health and other hospitals can copy our best practices.”

The third of six children, Dr. Aono is a mother, herself. She has three girls, ages 6, 4, and 6 months. Her husband is also a surgeon and works in Kampala.


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