Burns and reconstructive surgery

For those disabled or disfigured by scarring, burn contractures or the effects of leprosy, specialised plastic surgery procedures greatly increase mobility, and improve the quality of life for them and their families.


The general surgeries Mercy Ships undertakes is the removal of hernias and goitres. These growths often plague people of all ages in many developing nations in Africa. The stigma means children miss school and adults are unable to work because of the superstition that surrounds the cause of these conditions.


Many patients, even babies,  arrive at the Mercy Ship carrying a life-sentence because of a benign tumour. A small growth left untreated simply expands – inward and outward. Eventually the sufferer will likely be outcast because of superstition surrounding their condition, or will die from slow suffocation and starvation.The free surgery is often complex and requires extended recuperation. The self-esteem of these patients who have often been ridiculed is gently nurtured during their recovery on board.

Children born with cleft lip or palate in the developing world have little chance of having corrective surgery.The incomplete lip and palate prevent the newborns from successfully breast feeding, and malnutrition usually sets in. Those who survive are often rejected by their communities from their earliest memories. Thousands of smiles have been restored by Mercy Ships’ surgical teams.


Obstetric fistula is a preventable and usually treatable condition that primarily affects young women from poor backgrounds. A fistula is one of the most devastating of all pregnancy-related disabilities. Usually the result of obstructed labour coupled with a lack of skilled medical care, obstetric fistula
most often leads to permanent incontinence.


The Mercy Ships team provide eye examinations to thousands every year. Our ophthalmic surgeons then perform free, vital eye operations that restore patients’ sight and improve their quality of life. Most remarkably, many of these surgeries are for children that have been blind since birth with congenital cataracts.


Babies born with abnormalities like severely bowed legs become children and adults who suffer a lifetime of disability.  They often live with shame, and find that education and later employment is beyond their reach.