Mercy Ships volunteers perform 100,000th free surgical procedure

Mercy Ships volunteers perform 100,000th free surgical procedure

A baby born with a debilitating cleft lip in Guinea has received free surgery from Mercy Ships volunteers, marking the nonprofit’s 100,000th surgical procedure onboard its charity hospital ships during its 40-year legacy.

Aissata (EYE-sat-ah), a 7-month-old child, traveled with her mother nearly 200 miles to receive the surgery on the hospital ship the Africa Mercy, which has provided free surgeries to more than 2,100 people in Guinea since arriving in August.

“I have always been very worried about her future and what would happen to her if I didn’t get her the surgery she needs,” said Aissata’s mother, Hassanatou (Ha–SANA–tu). “But now that she has come here to the ship, I am no longer worried.”

Their family is among the world’s estimated 5 billion people who do not have access to safe, affordable, timely surgery. In sub-Saharan Africa specifically, 93 percent of the population can’t get the surgery it needs.

Mercy Ships addresses this global surgery crisis within Africa by sending hospital ships staffed by volunteers to the places where surgeons are needed most. These surgeons also train local medical professionals who will stay in their home countries, effecting change long after Mercy Ships departs. Mercy Ships has touched more than 2.7 million lives since 1978.

“Seeing Aissata’s new smile after her surgery is an image of the hope and healing we are working to provide for thousands of people in Africa who are without access to surgical care,” Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens said.

In the developed world, Aissata’s condition is typically treated in infancy. But in places with limited access to surgery, many children simply cannot get treatment. The condition can lead to malnutrition if infants are unable to nurse, and it can lead to social exclusion or stigmatization as the children grow older.

“Our surgical program changes the entire course of our patients’ lives,” said Donovan Palmer, CEO of Mercy Ships. “And by forming partnerships with African nations, together we are building a powerful legacy of hope and healing that’s contributing to the overall development of West and Central Africa.”

Learn more about the organization, including donation and volunteer opportunities, at MercyShips.org.

Media Contact
Eric Heisler
717-678-1031
heisler@thebravogroup.com

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