Mercy Ships Canada is celebrating World Blood Day and blood donors around the world! Onboard the world’s largest charity hospital ship, Africa Mercy, the volunteer crew make up the blood bank and play a huge role in saving lives and restoring hope.
The Africa Mercy is crewed by 450 international volunteers; professionals include surgeons, engineers, teachers, cooks and more – all volunteering their time, service, and blood to provide free medical care for the world’s poor!
This past year crew members were vital in saving the life of one particular patient, 60-year-old Sambany from rural Madagascar. Sambany travelled by foot for two days with the burden of a 16.46lb facial tumour to reach the Africa Mercy, in hopes of receiving free surgery.
Surgeons onboard hesitated to operate on Sambany, as the complications which could arise from removing a fifth of his weight were large, but they decided to go ahead with the surgery.
“I knew without surgery I would die. I knew I might die in surgery, but I already felt dead inside from the way I was treated. I chose to have the surgery” said Sambany.
It took 17 selfless donors to keep him alive during his 12 hour surgery, which removed his massive tumour. Kyle Siemens from Kelowna, British Columbia and Media Liason on board, was one of five Canadian donors called to give Sambany blood.
“The medical staff told us that it was really lucky there had been enough donors on the ship – Sambany had lost all of his own blood and was currently running on 100% donated. To know that I have directly helped save someone’s life is amazing” says Kyle.
Sambany has now recovered and returned home to his village where family and friends were in shock after seeing his face without the tumour he had carried for 19 years.
The Africa Mercy spends an average of 10 months in each host country performing surgeries and offering developmental programs and training to locals, completely free of charge. we would not be able to deliver healthcare services to patients like Sambany without the help of our wonderful volunteers!