2016

Vivien and Manatiry developed a special bond
Vivien and Mananatiry developed a special bond

Starship Health paediatric nurse Vivien Welsh always knew she wanted to work with children. She entertained both teaching and nursing as career options. But time with a Christian missionary organisation based in Brisbane and travelling in India and other parts of Asia convinced her nursing was the right choice. “When I was travelling, I saw just how much need there was for health care.”

Her first paediatric placement as a student and her pre-registration placement on a neurology ward at Starship confirmed she had made the right career decision. She graduated from Auckland University of Technology in 2012 and began her nurse-entry-to-practice placement on the neurology ward where she had worked as a third-year student. Welch loves the work.

“I love working very closely with families. It is different to working with families of adult patients. When a child is in hospital, a family member is there all the time and every shift we discuss with that family member what we hope to achieve. It is a real partnership.”

She has stayed on the neurology ward – “there’s still so much to learn”. But her time there has been punctuated by two stints as a volunteer nurse with Africa Mercy, the world’s largest civilian floating hospital, which was in Madagascar. The Africa Mercy is run by the international non-government organisation Mercy Ships. The first time – from mid October 2014 to mid-January 2015 – she worked on the ship’s paediatric ward. She resigned from her job to do so, but on her return successfully applied for a position on her former ward. Welch knew she wanted to return to Africa Mercy. For her second assignment of 12 weeks with the hospital’s dedicated wound care team, which began in early January this year, the ward accommodated her unpaid leave.

She feels compelled to do this work. “I want to make a practical difference and Mercy Ships provides the structure and support to do that. I also feel a responsibility to do so. I’ve been born in this country but have done nothing to deserve that fate; I could just as easily have been born in a country with nothing. I feel I have a duty to give something back.”

Six-year old Manantiry's arm and hand were immobilised by scar tissue
Six-year old Manantiry’s arm and hand were immobilised by scar tissue

Time with the dedicated wound care team was her way of doing so this year. “Working on the ‘dressings team’ was very different to any nursing I’d ever done before. Previously, I’d worked on the wards where I had a patient load. In the ship’s dressing team we definitely worked as a team, which was great. Five of us rotated, with four nurses on duty each day. We operated in pairs, alternating between performing dressing changes and distracting kids, while getting the instruments and dressings ready for the other nurses.”

There was always music playing, and dancing withher bandaged patients to Taylor Swift’s latest hit was a regular occurrence.

“Despite the seriousness of the conditions being treated, we created a fun environment to work in. There was always music playing. We sang and danced around with our patients – or solo – to entertain them! We always ended the day with our faces covered in stickers from the kids.”

A six-year-old boy, Manantiry, will always remain in Welch’s memory. He had pulled a pot of boiling water onto himself when he was two. His family lived in a remote village, had very little money and poor access to health care. She first met him during his initial dressing change one week after surgery on board. (See box on facing page.)

“He had  severe burn contractures and surgery released his scarring and he received multiple skin grafts. Dressings had to be changed on four different sites: his hand, axilla, elbow and the large donor site on his thigh.

“I had the job of distracting Manantiry and holding him still, while his surgeon did the first dressing change. It is something I will never forget. Manantiry screamed and screamed for most of the hour that it took.  I spent the entire time wrapping him in a hug and holding his arm or hand still for the surgeon. Manantiry stared directly up at me with his huge brown eyes. I spoke to him gently, reassured him, and sang to him. Through it all, I think Manantiry ended up trusting me more. For weeks afterwards, I was the only one he would allow to perform his dressing change. We formed a really strong bond. It was amazing to watch some of the movement in his hand restored soon after surgery.”

The basics of dressing changes

As her 12-week assignment was coming to an end, Welch was working in the ship’s dockside clinic doing outpatients’ dressing changes. Manantiry’s mother came to the clinic and told her they were going home, as a family member had died. The journey back to their small village took five or six days of difficult travelling. “She said they would return in a month because it would take that long to travel there and back. We quickly taught Mama the basics of changing the dressing and looking after her son’s wound. Before he left, he had 90 degrees of movement at his axilla.”

Welch later heard that Manantiry had returned to the Hospital Outpatient Extension Centre about three weeks after they were scheduled to arrive. His wounds had all healed but he had lost some range of movement because he hadn’t been doing his exercises. The rehabilitation team continued to work with him to regain that lost movement.

While Welch saw “crazy surgical presentations I’d never see in New Zealand”, the actual nursing practice on Mercy Africa was more akin to caring for elective surgery patients. “The nursing is not as acute as my nursing here – you’re not run off your feet so you can get to know the patients and their families really well. We could spend time hanging out with the kids, singing, playing, forming real relationships and seeing how much of a difference we can make. I loved that about it  and I certainly got more than I gave.”

Returning to New Zealand and re-entering a high-acuity environment, with acutely unwell children, takes a little adjusting to. But what she finds more of a challenge is some people’s attitudes. “All our patients have really nice single rooms but some people can still find things to complain about. They don’t realise how good we’ve got it here. We have access to free health care. In Madagascar, every intravenous line, bag of fluids, dressing pack etc must be paid for before you get any treatment. If you don’t have money, you don’t get help.”

Welch wants to continue making a practical difference. “I think perhaps it’s time to move on from the neurology ward and get some different experiences, keep challenging myself to learn new things and get new skills I can take overseas. I want to keep finding ways of working overseas, to keep learning and to keep becoming a better nurse.”

Published by Kai Tiaki, Nursing New Zealand December 2016. Posted with permission.

Related Posts

2016

Hannah fitting Jimmy's prosthesisHannah Rutherford recently volunteered with the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. The Mercy Ship was docked in Madagascar, and Hannah describes how she was impacted professionally and personally as she worked alongside the international teams providing healthcare services to people in extreme poverty.

 

After studying at Otago University and graduating in 2010, Hannah worked for Counties Manukau District Health Board for two and a half years before moving to Sydney in 2013. In Australia I work at the Sydney Adventist Hospital as a cardiorespiratory physiotherapist.

 

“I first heard about Mercy Ships from a colleague whilst working as a rotational physiotherapist at Middlemore Hospital for Counties Manukau. Her enthusiasm was contagious. My desire to travel and learn about another culture meant this organisation caught my interest immediately. What I didn’t realise at this early stage was that the Mercy Ship would offer me so much more than an opportunity to work abroad as a physiotherapist,” says Hannah.

 

Mercy Ships is an international NGO that has operated a fleet of hospital ships in developing countries since 1978. They enter port cities at the invitation of a country’s government. They then work in that country alongside government, international and local NGOs and local church partners for 10 months of field service Their aim is to support a country’s health delivery by providing training and completing medical-capacity building projects. This leaves the country with a much stronger and sustainable healthcare system at the completion of the field service. Throughout each field service they also address immediate healthcare needs by providing thousands of free surgical services that are not available within the host nation.

 

Burns paitents need pysio to regain movement after surgeryHannah had the privilege of living and working on the Mercy Ship from January to May of 2016. The Africa Mercy houses a crew of 450 volunteers from around the world. The lower level of the ship is largely taken up by the hospital. The ship has five operating theatres and eighty inpatient beds over five wards. It is supported by dental, pathology, radiology and, of course, rehabilitation services.

 

Hannah worked as a member of the rehabilitation team alongside four other physiotherapists and two occupational therapists. The main role of the rehabilitation team is to provide therapy services to patients receiving orthopaedic or plastic reconstructive surgery. The team also treats patients from any specialty if a need arises, and even members of the crew for urgent musculoskeletal conditions. Whilst in Madagascar, Mercy Ships provided 99 orthopaedic and 102 plastic surgeries, in addition to hundreds of other surgeries, free of charge.

 

“While I was on the ship, the bulk of our caseload consisted of patients with congenital deformities, severe wound infections, or burn scar contractures that required plastic surgery.”

 

The rehabilitation team worked on the wards and in a military-style tent on the dockside. The tent at times housed six therapists and five interpreters, all working with patients and their families at the same time. This, along with the language and cultural barriers, limited resources and a restricted time frame, added to the challenges we faced with the clinical work they were doing.  “It was the craziest, but equally the most supportive, work environment I have ever been in. Many of the conditions we treated were made more complicated by the delays in the patients accessing health services,” says Hannah.

 

As a team they had many brainstorming sessions where they shared their expertise and supported each other in problem-solving the unique issues they were presented with. “Somehow we always managed to find a way to provide the best care for these patients. I believe we covered almost every area of physiotherapy while I was working there. One moment we would be prescribing bubble PEP and other respiratory treatments for a five-year-old, and then treating a man who had ataxia following a severe head injury. There was lots of shoulder rehabilitation following axilla releases, hand therapy and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. In addition, we were making all of our splints and orthotics. We had limited resources for this and often had to get creative with our designs.”

 

Hannah volunteered as a physio in MadagascarHannah’s Mercy Ships experience was a huge learning curve and an opportunity for growth both professionally and personally. “It was the most rewarding work I have ever been part of. As physiotherapists, our goal is to restore function. We were part of a team that provided a service that completely changed these patients’ lives by restoring a function they thought they had lost forever. With these patients we had the opportunity to help them regain movement in a limb where previously there had been none. It was the coolest gift you could ever give someone.”

 

“I met Jimmy on my second day in Madagascar. Mercy Ships had offered him a below-knee amputation, and he presented limping, with his leg wrapped in a filthy blanket and covered in flies. Jimmy told us his leg had been badly burnt when he was 11 years old, and the wound had never healed. Now aged 28, his leg was so badly infected the bones were exposed and he could not weight-bear on that leg. Mercy Ships offered him a below-knee amputation, and following this Jimmy’s rehab was initially straight forward, involving stump bandaging and strengthening work. Our first real challenge came when we decided to make a temporary prosthesis so that he could start partial weight-bearing. This involved some trial and error with the resources we had on hand, but we eventually had an effective prosthesis made out of casting material and the end of a crutch. Jimmy’s progress was nearly derailed by the growth of a bone spur at the end of his tibia. The original surgeon’s volunteer service had concluded by then, so we asked around the group of surgeons on board at the time if anyone would be comfortable operating on him. One plastic surgeon, whose specialty was facial surgery, offered to help.

 

Because Jimmy had to return to theatre for the spur removal, he was not ready for a prosthesis until our last few weeks in Madagascar.  We paid a local prosthetist to make him a permanent prosthesis; it cost about $80 and took one week to make. Jimmy would never have found the money to pay for it himself. He quickly and competently took ‘on board’ everything we taught him. He was walking unaided his prosthesis by the time Mercy Ships bade farewell to Madagascar’s shores.”

Posted with permission. Physio Matters, December 2016. Publisher Physiotherapy New Zealand

Related Posts

2016

Jonathan hard at work in the server room
Jonathan hard at work in the ship server room

West Africa is a completely different world to ours. It smells different, it looks different, the traffic is chaotic with motorbikes coming from all directions. One of the most significant differences, however, concerns the health system. It is basic and insufficient to serve the people of the country, not to mention that accessing even the most basic healthcare services can lead families into bankruptcy. Most people just learn to live with preventable and treatable conditions.

This year I had the opportunity to volunteer my time and IT skills in a West African country called Benin. I volunteered as an IT support specialist for an organisation called Mercy Ships, on board the Africa Mercy for three months. The Africa Mercy is a hospital ship which provides free surgeries and medical training to countries along the West African coast. Providing medical capacity building, surgical procedures and post-operative care to the highest standard, the Africa Mercy impacts thousands of lives in each country they dock in.

My time was spent fixing all sorts of IT equipment on the ship. The ship is a unique environment in terms of IT support. It contains a hospital,ship engine room, school, café/shop, hair salon, library, church, bank, and 450 crew members with plenty of personal devices on board. The rest of the IT team and I had to be well-organised and inventive to handle all the technology issues that were thrown at us. Our mission was to make a first world hospital run smoothly on a first-world ship in a third world country. By working and living on the ship

Jonathan Clark and his wife Stephanie Jonathan Clark and his wife Stephanie on the deck of Africa Mercy
Jonathan Clark and wife Stephanie on the Africa Mercy

24/7,when you do a job for someone you not only feel that you are helping the people of Benin but you also feel like you are helping out friends. This gave me a real sense of accomplishment in my job.

Volunteering for Mercy Ships has reminded me that customers and patients are the main reason I come into work every day. The effort I put into developing quality software will ultimately result in a better experience for those consumers and patients. I have also realized how blessed we are in New Zealand to have a reliable and affordable health system. There are so many factors in Benin preventing people from getting the care that they need. So let us be thankful this Christmas that we have the facilities and resources needed to have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

by Jonathan Clark, Software Developer at Orion Health

 

Find out more: The Toughest tech you’ll ever love

Related Posts

2016

Dr. Tony providing anaesthesia on board the Mercy Ship
Dr. Tony providing anaesthesia

Benin, a small West African country between Togo and Nigeria, has severe resource constraints and a population of 10 million with limited access to health care. Mercy Ships will be in Benin for 10 months providing a range of surgical specialities: plastic and general surgery, gynaecology (fistula repairs), ophthalmology, orthopaedics, limited neurosurgery (specifically encephalocele cases), and dental and maxillofacial surgeries.

I found the Mercy Ships set-up to be very welcoming, professional and well equipped. Long before the ship had arrived in the country patients had been screened for suitability.

Initial screening took place in both metropolitan areas and in isolated rural villages with teams from the ship travelling far into the interior. The ship offers elective surgery for only benign disease and only where the course of treatment can be completed over the course of the ship’s stay.

Prior to their arrival on the hospital wards, patients had been checked by an experienced rural Australian GP, who had arranged for their bloods tests, ECGs and radiology. Severe hypertensives were postponed and started on treatment. Time had been spent counselling the patients in their own language about what was being offered, and expectations and likely outcomes. Final surgical consent was obtained the night before surgery, often with an inked thumb print.

The hospital is well resourced with five operating theatres, a post-anaesthesia care unit or PACU, an intensive care unit with adjoining high dependency unit (with the ability to ventilate post-operative patients), four post-operative wards, full laboratory services including transfusion – you have to love warm, whole blood when the suction bottle has reached the seven-litre mark – and radiology, including CT, ultrasound and plain film. Post-operative physiotherapy and extended-duration hand therapy was available.

From an anaesthetic perspective the theatres had Mindray anaesthetic machines, circle systems with Iso and Sevo volatile agents, oxygen/air mix, end tidal agent monitoring and the capacity for invasive monitoring in selective cases. A range of fibre-optic scopes were available along with C-MAC and Air Trac. Ultrasound was easily accessible for regional anaesthesia. Every theatre had an anaesthetic consultant and trained anaesthetic assistant.

The surgical pathology over my stay was varied, the sub-speciality surgery being dependant on the specialist skills of the surgeon who was onboard the ship at the time. I did plastics lists with lots of burn contracture-release surgery, removal of massive facial neurofibroma, MaxFax cases of ameloblastomas the size of watermelons requiring awake fibre-optic intubation (AFOI), subtotal mandibulectomy and plate reconstruction, lots of hernia repairs, and lumps and bumps. There was a mix of adult and paediatric cases.

Working with an international team of volunteers
Working with an international team of volunteers

There were plenty of times that I wished I had paid more attention during fourth form French classes but translators were readily available throughout the patient journey. Local people were very multilingual and one could always communicate with patients in one of their own languages including at induction and emergence.

The surgical wards were a very communal affair. It would be common to be seeing a patient for the next day’s list, asking questions about their past anaesthetic exposure, allergy or surgical pathology only to have those questions answered by the patient in the next bed with advice from visitors across the room. One notable general surgical list had three adjacent patients with four hernias between them. Much discussion ensued as to who had the biggest hernia, the stonemason, the fisherman or the jailer-turned-security guard. In the end the ward decided the fisherman was the victor given that he was scheduled for a bilateral hernia repair, but no one believed his account of the size of the fish he caught. The stonemason clearly had the toughest hands – mine were pronounced to be like a young girl’s – and the security guard laughed that the very people he was paid to keep in, he was now paid to keep out! It was certainly a unique pre-admission clinic!
With help from Mercy Ships and through contacts with the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) – thank you Wayne Morriss – I was able to spend two days at two local university hospitals observing. I was made very welcome by the two professors who patiently showed me through their institutions and allowed me access to the theatre complex. In Benin, medicine is a seven-year fee-paying course, at the end of which most graduates endeavour to specialise as soon as possible.

Sharing fishing stories during ward rounds
Sharing fishing stories during ward rounds

There is no universal health care; patients pay for medical treatment. Consequently Obstetrics and Gynaecology is the most popular choice given the young population and high birth rate. Specialist training takes four years during which the registrars receive no salary for their work.
The anaesthetic workforce statistics reported to me were staggering. Consistent with most of sub-Saharan Africa, Benin, with 10 million people, has 22 medical anaesthetists, and not all of them are in clinical practice. There are 250 nurse anaesthetists who do the bulk of the clinical work. The nurse anaesthetist school in Cotonou has trained 200 of the 250 but has been closed for the last two years.
Part of the role of Mercy Ships in Benin is to assist with medical capacity-building and education as well as clinical care. Accordingly they are running courses in sterilisation techniques, promoting the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist – which is not widely used – and promoting the need for a surgical count at the end of surgery to ensure all swabs and instruments are accounted for—also not used in the theatres I observed. In addition local surgeons and anaesthetists spend time working along expatriate specialists in the theatres onboard the Africa Mercy.
While in this environment, as a husband and father it was hard not to wonder what life would be like for my loved ones should the place of their birth have been different. It was a privilege to be able to make a small contribution to the lives of some very vulnerable people.

 

By Dr Tony Diprose, published by NZ Anaesthesia December 2016

Video link : https://vimeo.com/171768893 The Mercy Ships response to Global Surgical Need (3 min)

2016

2016

2.5 min VIDEO: Unable to walk far enough to get to school, this bright little girl and her family were heartbroken over what her future would be – until they heard about another girl whose legs were straightened for free by Mercy Ships. Fifalina’s tenacity and zest for life will brighten up your day in just 2.5 minutes!

Watch Fifalina's miracle happen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Fifalina’s transformation

Related Posts

2016

 

Dr Hadleigh Reid's second tour-of-duty
Dr Hadleigh Reid’s second tour-of-duty

It is becoming a habit for Dr Hadleigh Reid to spend his down-time overseas – providing free dental treatment for some of the world’s poorest people.

The Wanganui dentist is serving his second tour of duty in Africa with Mercy Ships. This month-long humanitarian adventure has taken Reid to post-Ebola Benin, where he is treating up to 18 patients living in poverty each day.  On appointment days, the dental team arrives to the on-shore clinic with hundreds in pain lined up and waiting for help that is otherwise simply inaccessible.

Reid finds the long hours and demanding work challenging but extremely rewarding. “I think the biggest factor we encounter is the lack of dental treatment available.  Small problems get bigger and bigger when left untreated.   We see some very extreme cases, so much more advanced than anything I would see at home.  I had a teenager in today who had infection draining from a tooth out of his neck and it had been like that for two years!  We had a couple of patients in yesterday with really advanced oral cancer involving their tongue, neck and throat.  Last week there was a patient who had dead and infected bone in his lower jaw that was so bad that his jaw joint had rotted away!”

Reid discovered some surprises upon his return to post-Ebola Africa.  “It was interesting talking someone on the ship the other day who said the overall mortality rate dropped significantly in West Africa during Ebola – because people were so much more careful about hygiene and transmitting infectious diseases!

“I think it is a great opportunity to be able to assist developing nations with their health care and training and supporting their health workers.  It gives you a different perspective on life and appreciation for all we take for granted.”

Each year the Mercy Ships crew provide more than 20,000 dental services, in addition to thousands of medical and surgical services, at no charge. They work alongside local government providers to improve local health care delivery systems in nations at the lowest end of the UN Haman Development Index.

More information;  visit www.mercyships.org.nz

ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, with more than 2.56 million people directly benefiting. The Africa Mercy is crewed by 400 volunteers from up to 40 nations, an average of 1000 each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. With offices in 16 nations including New Zealand, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.

 

Related Posts

2016

Koffi has a loving nature and passion for God
Koffi has a loving nature and passion for God
Serving as a hospital chaplain was not on Koffi’s radar when he completed a Bachelor of Finance degree, but he had felt ‘called to ministry’ since he was a teenager.

It all began when Koffi was visiting another church in his home nation of Benin one Sunday, and he met a group of Mercy Ships crew members. He had never heard of this organization before, but he felt compelled to attend their day worker interviews the following day. The Advance Team were selecting Beninese to work as interpreters and translators for the Africa Mercy’s upcoming 2009 field service.

In each nation Mercy Ships serves, a large number of local dialect and trade-language speakers are needed to help our teams effectively communicate with our patients. The necessity of receiving accurate patient history, clear medical permission, and explaining surgical information simply, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Koffi’s first season of service as a conduit of communication for Mercy Ships was in the Hospital OutPatients Extension (HOPE) Centre in Benin. He loved the work so much he traveled to neighbouring Togo to continue his interpretation work in the following field service.

After returning to his job in Benin for a year, Koffi felt the irresistible pull back to Mercy Ships. His heart for God and his passion for people made way for further work as a translator in the ship’s on board hospital. Later he served as a trainer for the incoming French-speaking Guinean interpreters.

In 2013 Koffi signed on articles as a long-term volunteer crew member. This time his area of ministry was as a team leader in the ship’s dining room. As Koffi set his hand to the practical tasks before him, he also volunteered additional time in the ship’s wards; praying with and encouraging the patients and their caregivers.

Koffi’s passion for our patients saw him invited to serve as a full-time hospital chaplain the following year.

“I love what I’m doing,” he says. “My job is to care for the patients emotionally, spiritually and mentally. We encourage them through the Word of God, we sing, pray for and council them. The toughest part is when we have to give them bad news [about their condition] but because we have built a relationship with them, we can share, be there with them, pray. When I am around the patients I feel they are my brothers and sisters. I love them, and they call me ‘Alleluia’.”

Related Posts

2016

At 7 mths Haingo was newborn size
At 7 mths Haingo was newborn size
Haingo was born in a tropical downpour. Even in the hut’s dim light it was clear Hiango’s tiny mouth was slashed by a bi-lateral cleft lip. Her mother Viviaby’s joy turned to sadness, and her father immediately rejected the newborn saying, “In our family we don’t have babies like this!”

No one in their Madagascan village had heard of this disfigurement. “Is it because of something that I did?” Viviaby wondered. “But I am a Christian, we have nothing taboo (cursed). If God gave her to me like she is, He knows how to take care of her.” But the visible deformity was the least of Haingo’s problems.

The situation became dire as days passed and Haingo was unable to breastfeed because of her cleft palate. The hole in the roof of her mouth prevented Haingo from sucking. She cried incessantly. Her father said, ‘It’s not going to survive so you’d better kill it!” Her mother declared, “Let her live!”
Viviaby kept Haingo alive with diluted canned milk – each can costing a day’s wages. Still Haingo failed to thrive. “I did not have money to buy something good for her, recalls Viviaby. “She was getting more and more skinny. I was afraid, I was always praying.” At seven months old Haingo weighed only 2.2kg.

On every side Viviaby encountered superstition and cruel comments – until one day women who recently received free surgeries on the Mercy Ship walked by their secluded village. They heard about Haingo. “There is free treatment. You should bring your baby there!” they shared.
So for two days petite courageous Vivaby carried her baby through rugged countryside to find transport to the Mercy Ships patient screening in her region.

The urgency of Haingo’s situation was accessed by screening coordinator Mirjam. “Haingo was seven months old, looked like she was only two months. I was surprised she was still alive. I realised we couldn’t do surgery straight away. She would have to be in our Infant Feeding Program to gain weight.” Haingo and her valiant mother accompanied the team returning to the Africa Mercy on a Mission Aviation Fellowship flight.

With loads of TLC Haingo gained enough weight to have surgery
With loads of TLC Haingo gained enough weight for surgery
Mother and daughter were rushed onboard the hospital ship, and paediatric nurses began around-the-clock emergency nutrition. Shelby was charge nurse when Haingo was admitted. “She was so small! If you didn’t know her age you would think she was newborn.”
Viviaby slept well for the first time since Haingo’s birth because “They were feeding her with an (oral feeding) syringe because she couldn’t suck a bottle,” she explains.

Haingo began to gain weight and become responsive. Viviaby talked with other mothers of cleft lip babies in the ward. She was comforted, and she no longer felt alone. After 10 days Haingo was stabilised and discharged to the Mercy Ships HOPE (Hospital Out Patients Extension) Centre. Haingo’s weight was tracked, her development and care discussed in the Infant Feeding Program (IFP). “I love seeing the transformation as the infants gain weight, get stronger and reach developmental milestones,” shares Mercy Ships dietitian, Jillian Davis (USA), ‘A most impacting aspect is the parents gaining hope.”
“Before, Haingo was crying a lot because she did not eat enough. But now she is happy! She has enough food!” exclaimed Viviaby.

As Haingo grew, she began to do all the heart-warming things that babies her age are purposed to. She tracks movement with eyes that were previously glazed, and waves ‘Veloma’ (goodbye) with the chubby arms that had been so frail. After five months Haingo reached 3.5 kg, and the vital ‘average weight for height’ benchmark. At last she was strong enough to undergo operations to repair her cleft lip and part of her palate.

As Haingo came out of the first surgeries, Viviaby gathered her baby in her arms. “She’s beautiful!” was all the overwhelmed mother could say.
When Viviaby and Haingo returned to their village, Haingo’s four-year-old brother was distraught. “You exchanged my sister!” he accused, “It’s not my sister!” The villagers too were amazed by the extraordinary change in Haingo’s appearance. Viviaby explained the remaining surgery would fix all of the baby’s problems.

At 13 months old Haingo received her finial free operation. Only now, with her palate closed, can she eat and drink normally, with the ability to speak clearly.

Viviaby reflects, “Nobody believed someone could help Haingo. Without Mercy Ships, Haingo would have died. But my baby is healed!”

Haingo’s life was transformed by mercy.

Haingo was transformed by mercy
Haingo was transformed by mercy

Related Posts

2016

Fenosoa and Papa Denis have a very special relationship Fenosoa and Papa Denis have a very special relationship. Although Fenosoa’s family live in the same Madagascan village, he shares a hut with his grandfather. Why? “Because he loves me,” explains his grandfather, Papa Denis.

Fenosoa was born with a cyst on his side. For five years it grew along with the little boy, sometimes making him lose his balance.
Papa Denis heard a radio broadcast about Mercy Ships providing specific free surgeries in Madagascar. The family was elated. So the tenacious 86-year-old and his pint-sized grandson walked for five days to reach the nearest public transport. Over three more days, mini-buses brought them progressively closer to the Mercy Ship … and the surgery Fenosoa desperately needed.

The screening team said Mercy Ships could help Fenosoa – but the 2014-15 field service surgery schedule was full. The boy and his grandfather made the huge journey home with his precious appointment card and confidently returned for surgery during the folowing Madagascar field service. They had now walked for 15 days to get the help Fenosoa needed.

Grandfather and grandson chattered endlessly, and their deep love for each other was evident. The boy’s 750- gram thin-walled cyst was removed by Mercy Ships’ volunteer surgeons. Fenosoa was mystified. “I don’t know what happened. I was sleeping, and when I woke up, it was gone!”

Fenosoa is the youngest person from his isolated village to journey to the coast. It was going to be tough to explain a hospital ship to his playmates. He thought hard as he sat on his bed in the ward. “The ship is so big, it looks like a village!” he said.

With a two-tooth grin, Papa Denis said they would take it easy after the young boy’s recovery from surgery – they would take six days instead of five to walk home … and set a slower pace!

Relieved of his life-long burden, Fenosoa could not wait to get back to his village friends. Back to endless soccer matches and marbles – all of the rowdy games played by little boys around the world, regardless of the language they speak.

Related Posts