Cardo looked through the lens of the camera. He could see some of his new friends making faces and acting silly. He flashed a smile at the videographer who returned the eight-year-old’s excitement with a big grin of his own. It’s not every day that you witness someone discovering a whole new world. Cardo’s world, which had been limited by a hernia since birth, was about to become a whole lot bigger and brighter.
In a field service, Mercy Ships provides surgeries of various types, including general surgeries. During the Mercy Ships field service in Madagascar, volunteer surgeons performed 335 general surgeries in a 217-day period. Hernia surgeries accounted for 195 of the general surgeries – mostly on children.
“Most kids come in, and they are terrified, and we do what we can to make them feel safe,” shares Naomi Reid, a nurse from Australia, who serves as a screening assistant with Mercy Ships. Most of the children have never seen a doctor.
And those that have previously seen a doctor associate doctors with severe pain and even death. “They see pretty quickly that we are not here to hurt them, but it’s still a scary thing for them. Cardo, however, was the exception,” Naomi added.
Naomi recalled the comical scene of evaluating the eight-year-old boy who proudly marched into the screening tent and removed his pants for the doctor to see his hernia, which had formed in his groin area. Observers couldn’t help but chuckle at the ease with which Cardo removed his pants.
“He just dropped his drawers as if to say, ‘Yes this is me,’” said Naomi with a laugh. The scene, although amusing, did not underestimate the seriousness of Cardo’s visit.
Cardo’s mother discovered early on that there was something wrong with her baby boy’s groin. She took him to local doctors who diagnosed him with a hernia – a protrusion of an organ or tissue through the surrounding wall of his groin. Doctors delivered good and bad news – they could perform a surgery that would correct the hernia, but it would be very expensive. As a single mother with three children, Cardo’s mother could not afford such a surgery. She prayed for a solution.
One day she heard the answer to her prayers. A radio announcement announced that Mercy Ships offered free surgeries, and they would be selecting patients at the nearby town of Toliara, located in the southwest region of Madagascar. She sent Cardo to Toliara with his Uncle Ernest, and from there they made the two-day journey by car to Toamasina where the Africa Mercy was docked.
Just 24 hours after his operation, Cardo was ready to get behind a camera again! Free of his hernia, Cardo will have a chance to make even his newest dream of becoming a filmmaker true. Even acclaimed movie director Steven Spielberg could not have scripted a more perfect ending.
Story by Tanya Sierra