“It has taken a long time to find a solution. I walked around to many hospitals to find help. I am very, very happy. Mercy Ships is a very good place. They take care and encourage you."
Garden Valley, TX (PRWEB) October 13, 2011
Approximately eighty percent of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Today, on World Sight Day [October 13, 2011], Mercy Ships honors those courageous patients who have received eye surgeries onboard the state-of-the-art hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. In 2011, Mercy Ships eye surgeons gave the gift of sight to over 1,300 individuals in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Mercy Vision Eye Care Team also performed more than 7,500 eye evaluations and distributed 2,400 pairs of reading glasses.
With approximately 90% of all visually impaired people living in developing nations (1), the medical services provided by Mercy Ships in West Africa are focused on the areas of greatest need. The Africa Mercy has 6 operating theaters, a CT scan, a laboratory, and an X-ray machine. Eye care provided by the Mercy Vision Eye Care Team is one of many medical services provided free of charge to the men, women and children of West Africa.
Sidiatu is one of many young children who are brought to Mercy Ships eye screenings for medical assistance. Sidiatu’s mother, Fatmata, had taken her sixteen-month-old daughter, who suffered from congenital cataracts, to two hospitals in Freetown – with no success in finding treatment. Finally, a local doctor referred her to an eye screening with Mercy Ships. After the ophthalmologist examined Sidiatu’s eyes, Fatmata received a coveted appointment card for her daughter to have cataract surgery onboard the Africa Mercy.
After surgery, Fatmata was moved to tears when she saw her daughter take her very first look at the world. A toothbrush was set before her and also a toy that was just out of reach. Sidiatu stretched out her hand to grasp the red and blue truck. At that moment, a gasp was audible in the hospital ward. It was obvious – she could see! Tears welled up in the eyes of those who witnessed this miraculous moment. The doctor grinned, and a single tear ran down Fatmata’s cheek. Having her child see her for the first time was an overwhelming experience.
An estimated 19 million children in the world – children like Sidiatu – are visually impaired. Globally, cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle-income and low-income countries (2). Mercy Ships holds screenings of potential eye patients each week in Freetown, Sierra Leone, while the ship is in port. The Mercy Vision Eye Care Team works daily to relieve the suffering of West Africans who are battling poor vision and blindness. Their efforts are rewarded when they see patients celebrate their successful surgeries in a ceremony called Celebration of Sight. There, Fatmata expressed her appreciation for Mercy Ships. “It has taken a long time to find a solution [to Sidiatu’s health problem]. I walked around to many hospitals to find help. I am very, very happy. Mercy Ships is a very good place. They take care and encourage you.”
ABOUT MERCY SHIPS: Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $834 million, impacting more than 2.9 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to become the face of love in action, bringing hope and healing to the poor. For more information click on http://www.mercyships.org
Claire Bufe, US Public Relations
1. World Health Organization, October 2011;
2. World Health Organization, October 2011;