Sometimes, a picture is all you need to fall in love. When surgeries started in Benin in September, the Mercy Ships Canada office couldn’t wait to see the pictures of patients whose lives were transformed.
When we received a picture of 8-month-old baby Israel, who the screening team met at the main screening center in Cotonou, it was love at first site.
Israel’s mother Simone brought him to see the Mercy Ships Screening Team at the beginning of September, and we were all thrilled to hear that he was one of the first successful surgeries of the field service.
After having his cleft lip repaired on September 16th, Israel has now been discharged and is on his way to a full recovery.
When our photographer asked Simone what her family said upon seeing Israel post-surgery, she said “we’re so grateful to Mercy Ships, to all of you, for doing this for us, and we pray for all of you.”
Though his cleft lip was much deeper than normal and he will possibly need another surgery to permanently correct it, Israel was all smiles as he and his mother left the ship.
We will be visiting them at home in a few weeks and little Israel will continue to be carefully monitored as he recovers.
What does it take to save someone’s life?
This question came up a lot last week, as our first Medical Capacity Building course in Benin was all about protecting and saving the lives of mothers and babies through safer anesthesia. This course, SAFE Obstetric Anesthesia, focuses on obstetric anesthesia situations ranging from newborn resuscitation all the way to maternal trauma and obstetric emergencies.
Attending the course were 24 doctors and nurse-anesthetists, 6 midwives, and 8 “train the trainer” participants who helped co-teach the course.
Through a combination of lectures, discussions, scenarios and hands-on practice with mannequins, students learned about airway assessment and management, rapid sequence induction, extubation, the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, general anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, neurological complications, hypotension, the physiology of pregnancy, critical care and resuscitation, sepsis, maternal CPR, neonatal resuscitation, haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, and estimation of blood loss – just to name a few!
We were thrilled to have 7 outstanding teachers for the course. The teachers were supported by 4 fantastic translators who did a wonderful job translating complicated medical terms into French and matching the enthusiasm and energy of the teachers.
One of the teachers leading the course had this to say:
“Upon returning to the UK after teaching on various SAFE Obstetric Anaesthesia course (I have now done quite a few, 5 courses in 4 different countries). I have to confess that I often question whether it is really worth all the effort. Asking can we really make a lasting positive impact on the professional lives of the course delegates? Conducting these courses in French is especially difficult for those of us who do not speak French. However, this time I have arrived home on a real high. I have put the photo of our course faculty up on my office wall to inspire me and to help me keep believing in the vision behind these courses. I am confident that this course has been a resounding success”.
Our hope is that this course will have a powerful ripple effect as the students and train the trainers participants return to their different hospitals. Our hope and prayer is that the skills and knowledge they have learned will result in many saved lives and improved care for many, many moms and babies. The MCB team is thankful for such a successful start to the year, and we are looking forward to many more great courses!
-Abbey Watrous, Medical Capacity Building Project Manager
“As our Maintenance Coordinator on the Africa Mercy, Tom Waechter is constantly going above and beyond in his job, finding resourceful improvements to help both crew members and patients. It was no surprise to find Tom going above and beyond in another way, loving on patients outside his work hours. Earlier in the day, this patient was quite irritated–struggling to breathe and in pain. Once Tom showed up to visit, the same patient was calm and focused on a game Tom was carefully explaining. Tom represents what I love most about our community—a ship full of people consistently going the extra mile to love and serve others.”
—Katie Callow (USA), Africa Mercy Photographer
As the Mercy Ships Screening Center in Cotonou closes, the five surgical theatres onboard the Africa Mercy open! Orthopedic, Maxillofacial and Plastic Reconstruction surgeries have started this week and will continue through o the end of the month.
The Dental Clinic also opened September 12, and the Hope Center will open on September 23rd. Over the next three weeks our screening team will continue to work in communities such as Kandi, Bembereke and Parakou, traveling inland to reach more people in need that couldn’t be at our Cotonou screening. Stay tuned for more news and stories from the Africa Mercy as we move forward with our 2016/2017 field service in Benin!
The Africa Mercy is docked in Cotonou, Benin however Mercy Ships has multiple offsite locations where we see, screen and help patients. This screening center is located in Cotonou at CENTRE DON BOSCO, ZOGBO about 8 kilometers from the ship.