There are very few selfless people out in the world, but Dr. Maggi and his team are for sure them! This local Southlake resident tells us about his journey, from Texas to Africa, and we are so appreciative that we get to share it!
How did this journey to Africa begin?
I practiced in Durant, Oklahoma, for a very short time and finished 22-plus years in Denison, Texas. I’ve always had the desire to go to Africa and help the less fortunate and poorest of the poor. My only regret is that I did not start earlier in my life. I became very frustrated with the way medicine was headed in the U.S. and decided to head to Africa to do this particular surgery (obstetrical fistula) that really only exists in the third world that I had learned about during my residency. Africa called me.
How long have you been doing work in Africa?
My first trips were to Ghana in 2001. I was informed that obstetrical fistula surgeons were needed in Sierra Leone in 2002, and that is where it all started. I have just finished my 53rd trip there in October of this year. In 2004, I formed the WAFF (West Africa Fistula Foundation) and have been going every year since, when able.
Now that you are retired, why are you doing this?
I went on early retirement here in the States because I was tired. But I was definitely not weary of helping people or practising medicine! I was and am still young enough to have an impact and help those that really need medical help and attention. My trips annually change the lives of over 200 women! It’s an actual labor of love for people and my chosen career. I have always loved taking care of my patients, I consider myself a workaholic. I still do real-estate investing to support my family and help fund my foundation because there is no greater contentment and satisfaction than taking care of these folks. This has been my calling since my early childhood.
When I first went to Sierra Leone, the maternal mortality rate was the highest in the world because of the terrible 10-year war from 1991 to 2002. The infant mortality rate was one out of three dying before age five from malaria, meningitis, typhoid or pneumonia. Women suffered terribly because the infrastructure was completely destroyed. They did not have access to care and could be in labor for up to 15 days, with the majority of them dying from infection, haemorrhage, etc. 99 percent of children died when the labor lasted more than a couple of days, and a very high percentage of these women would then develop an obstetrical fistula. These women are so grateful for anything you might do to help them.
Any stories you want to share?
I’ve written a book about my life and the harsh realities of the people we help. Our stories are real, raw medical horror stories. No elective caesareans or serene water births in five-star, Instagram-worthy stories here.
Anything else we should know?
The need is huge. The longer I go there and see the horrible consequences and long-term effects caused by the war on such amazing people and a beautiful country is incomprehensible. The fact that many people have suffered and still suffer to this day is mind-boggling, yet, they still smile and somehow keep on keeping on. The number of orphaned children with lasting physical and mental disabilities is just frustrating. It is still overwhelming, some days, you have no idea where to start, but you just have to do things one at a time. There is never a day that I do not wake up at two or three o’clock in the morning and thank God for what we have in America. There are so many in need. There is so much to be done.
Recently, we have taken on helping It breaks one’s heart when we see how these folks live and in what conditions.
Besides the Fistula Foundation focusing on gynaecological issues, we recently got involved with helping physically impaired children like Abu Morison (11yrs). When our staff first found Abu in 2022, the young boy was caked in dirt, covered in scrapes, and grinning from ear to ear. We believe Abu contracted polio at an early age, resulting in a condition that forced him to crawl on his hands and knees. The young boy had never seen a life higher than the ground. This boy dragged himself 1.5 miles over rocks and gravel to school and back daily for five years with a smile on his face. It’s heartbreaking! We arranged a wheelchair and got him into a school closer to home. Simple enough, yes, but only two small things were all he needed but had no access to. In just the last 10 months, we have 70-plus children that we are caring for in several ways and hope to be able to continue to do so in the future. The wonderful thing, though, is one can do so much over there with so little. Our organization is proud to say that every red cent that is donated to our organization gets there. Our family takes care of all the administrative costs that occur here in the States.
Our work matters. And I am fulfilled!