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Transformed by surgical care

New Zealand nurse volunteers on board Africa's hospital ships

An Auckland nurse has completed her fifth tour of duty with Mercy Ships, and is inspired by the resilience of her patient who come from countries often lacking basic health care.

Maggie, aged 35, had lived her whole life with a severe facial disfiguration, caused by a flesh­ eating disease she contracted as a baby. The Senegal woman has now undergone life­changing facial reconstruction surgery — rebuilding her nose and one side of her face — aboard a Mercy Ships floating hospital. Maggie is one of the patients cared for by Auckland volunteer nurse Julie Murphy in her latest tour of duty for Mercy Ships, in Senegal, West Africa. “I wanted to offer my nursing experience and skills to help people directly. I have seen first-hand how Mercy Ships changes a patient’s life. Life-transforming – and in some case life saving – surgery restores a person’s place in their family,” explains Julie Murphy. “Many have been outcast from their family and community due to cultural beliefs, such as the tumour or sickness is a sign the person is evil or cursed. {Post-operative patients are then able to return to living and contributing in their community.”  
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