Adiza before her goitre surgery
Adiza with the screening nurses before her goitre surgery

Adiza’s goitre had been growing for more than half of her 63 years of life. It became so large it was strangling her. Weighing over 2.5 kilos, it wrapped around her neck, squeezing her trachea from the back and sides. She could barely breathe or talk, and the heavy mass made it dangerous for her to even move. At this point, the need for treatment was urgent.

But Adiza wasn’t interested in getting help – not after what happened back in 1993 when she’d had surgery at a local hospital to remove the goitre. There were serious complications. The trauma had a lasting impact, leaving Adiza certain of one thing – never again. Despite pleas from her grown kids when Mercy Ships came to Benin in 2009, she refused to go, telling her daughter Suzanne, “I don’t want any more care. I’ll live like this until I die.”

Seven years later, she was still alive … but barely. Hearing of the ship’s return, her children wouldn’t let their mother refuse a second chance at life. But to get her cooperation, they had to be gentle. “I told my mum, ‘Let’s just have the doctors take a look,’” says Suzanne. It was a desperate attempt to convince her mother to give Mercy Ships a chance. Adiza, slowly suffocating, finally gave in. She realised she had nothing to lose … or everything, really – her kids, her grandkids ….

The day after surgery, with the goitre safely removed, Adiza was sleeping more soundly and comfortably than ever before. A few days more, and it was already time to head home. The transformation was astounding.

Adiza just a few weeks after her surgery
Adiza just a few weeks after her surgery

“Our friends and family couldn’t believe it! She disappeared for a week [for surgery on the Africa Mercy], and when she returned, the goitre was gone!” says Suzanne, still amazed. “Now, she can breathe. She feels lighter. She’s enjoying food again and catching up on rest, something she hasn’t been able to do for 40 years,” says Suzanne. “We’re all at ease, and she’s very happy.”