The world’s largest hospital ship, the Global Mercy, operated by the international charity organization Mercy Ships, performed its first pediatric orthopedic surgery on board in Senegal on March 7, 2023. The patient, four-year-old Amadou, was born with one windswept leg and one bowed leg. Amadou’s conditions can be corrected by early intervention, and he will undergo two surgeries.
Consultant Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Rachel Buckingham, assisted by Andrew Wainwright, both from the Oxford University Trust, performed the first surgery on Amadou, aided by a team of medical professionals from around the world who generously contributed their time and skills to accomplish this life-changing procedure.
In Senegal, there are no certified pediatric orthopedic surgeons practicing.
“What keeps me coming back is the need,” said Dr. Buckingham in a press 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.”
Over 40 pediatric orthopedic operations are planned for this month, with Amadou’s operation being the first. The Global Mercy will host more than 800 safe and complimentary surgeries over the next four months in surgical areas, including maxillofacial, general, pediatric specialized general, orthopedic, reconstructive plastics, and ophthalmology.
In 1978, Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships, envisioned the Mercy Ships ministry as a means of delivering complimentary medical care and training to some of the world’s most underprivileged nations. Today, the Global Mercy is fulfilling this commitment.
The Global Mercy serves a dual purpose, functioning as a civilian hospital ship and a training center. During its stay in Dakar, Senegal, over the next five months, volunteer professionals will provide hundreds of hours of training onboard in collaboration with local partners. The training curriculum is designed to equip over 600 healthcare professionals with crucial skills such as safe surgery, mental health, primary trauma care, SAFE Obstetrics, neonatal resuscitation, vital anesthesia simulation training, and essential pain management. The training program encompasses a mobile course in The Gambia, as well as both on- and off-ship mentoring in Dakar.
A pioneering feat for the Global Mercy is its ability to serve two countries simultaneously through a single port. The Senegalese government has extended an invitation to the nearby country of The Gambia, with the majority of the surgery patients expected to come from there.
This is the first surgical mission for the Global Mercy. However, Mercy Ships has provided aid in the region previously. The Africa Mercy conducted a successful field service in the Port of Dakar, performing 765 surgeries on 695 patients across various specialties from February to November 2022. In addition to performing surgeries, Mercy Ships collaborated with Senegalese partners and trained more than 2,500 participants in critical courses such as biomedical anesthesia, essential surgical skills, neonatal resuscitation, sterile processing, and more.
Mercy Ships has been an NRB member since 1995. NRB congratulates Mercy Ships on this remarkable accomplishment.