Despite being far away from South Africa, the story of four-year-old Amadou, the first patient to receive surgery on board the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy, is gripping the imagination of people across the country.
Born with one windswept leg and one bowed leg, even sitting for a meal was painful for him. But now, thanks to this state-of-the-art hospital ship, Amadou will receive two surgeries, the first of over 40 planned paediatric orthopaedic operations this month, and over the next four months, the Global Mercy will provide over 800 safe, free surgeries.
Consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Rachel Buckingham, who led the first surgery, said in a media release, “It’s the ability to train local healthcare workers and make a difference. Mercy Ships really wants to do itself out of a job. You go into medicine to have an impact so here we have a massive impact.”
In this historic first surgical field service, the Global Mercy will focus on bringing hope and healing through surgical specialties like maxillofacial, specialised general paediatrics, orthopaedics, reconstructive plastics, and ophthalmology.
The Global Mercy is not just a hospital but also a floating training centre, facilitating hundreds of hours of training in the coming five months whilst docked in Dakar.
Volunteer professionals on board, in collaboration with in-country partners, plan to train more than 600 healthcare professionals in courses such as safe surgery, mental health, primary trauma care, SAFE obstetrics, neonatal resuscitation, vital anaesthesia simulation training, and essential pain management. The training schedule will include a mobile course in The Gambia, as well as both on-and-off-ship mentoring in Dakar.
This new ship, which started as a dream of Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens over a decade ago, has finally become a reality. Jubilant crew and patients watched as young Amadou and his caregiver walked up the gangway of the Global Mercy to receive treatment. The long-awaited day had finally come for the real work of this purpose-designed hospital ship to begin.
During the previous 2022 field service, Mercy Ships also provided training and mentoring for more than 2 500 participants. Courses included biomedical anaesthesia training, essential surgical skills, neonatal resuscitation, sterile processing, and many more in collaboration with Senegalese partners.
The Global Mercy is not only a hospital ship but also a beacon of hope for the people of Senegal and neighbouring The Gambia. Through its world-class medical care and training programs, it is changing lives and building a brighter future for all.