I helped with getting the patients to this point. After our station, an ophthalmologist performed the laser eye procedures utilizing a portable, table-top YAG ophthalmic laser. “When the cataract is removed the surgeon leaves a little membrane in the eye which helps to hold the [synthetic replacement] lens in place,” Dr. Hugh explains. “After a period of time this membrane may become cloudy. As it becomes cloudy the patient’s vision is compromised. So they bring the patients back and they use the YAG laser to cut a little hole in the center of that membrane. The patient is able to see clearly again through that hole.” Medical research indicates about half of those who undergo a cataract removal procedure will eventually lose their sight a second time due to cloudy membranes. We will have our Celebration of Sight day in September.
We seated the patients and their families. Many stood and shared testimony and expressed their thanks to God and to the crew and to speak of how their lives had been transformed. One man spoke of losing his livelihood as a fisherman because of the cataracts that stole his vision. Another said he’d feared his eyesight had failed because of a curse placed on him by a neighbor. Both gave praise to God for the return of their sight. As you can imagine, many were older people. I reviewed their records and got them ready for Dr. Hugh to look into their eye.
One-hundred eighty-five patients crowded the Africa Mercy cafeteria on last Friday to celebrate the restoration of their eyesight with the beat of African drums, hymns and shouts of praise.
Health Care Services Manager Jean Campbell said of the Celebrate Sight event, “One of the things we wanted to do was to celebrate the fact they could see again, that this was a gift to them, and that ultimately it was God who made it all possible for their operations to take place onboard. It also was an opportunity for patients to express what a difference sight has made in their lives.” My role was patient flow and getting them ready for the slit lamp.
Our dental team normally serve Monday – Friday at a local hospital where patients line up early in the mornings to get a ticket to receive free dental care – fillings, root canal and extractions and some limited oral surgery. For a few days last week they set up a limited dental clinic in the central prison of Monrovia – with a population of 580 men and 20 women. We have had teams visiting and sharing with the inmates since our first visit to Liberia. We are partnering with Prison Fellowship of Liberia.
New on the Africa Mercy – orthopaedic surgery – first time on a Mercy Ship. Our orthopaedic team have worked extensively in Honduras and elsewhere, but with the new ship is the first time they are able to offer orthopaedic surgery on board. Here is a little girl and her mother after her reconstructive/corrective surgery of her club feet.
My friend Yvonne has befriended this lady who has had a successful VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) surgery on board – the fistula is due to prolonged labor and with the delivery occurring only after the baby dies. The woman is always wet and unable to control the flow of urine. Around 100,000 new cases of VVF are reported every year and affects women who are very young and very poor. We are planning to provide surgery to over 200 women.
In this photo, you see Ans Rozema who is from the Netherlands and is our Patient Care Coordinator for the hospital. She is sitting in the ICU – Intensive Care Unit – which was sponsored by Charlie & Katy Towers and the People of Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville was the home port of the Caribbean Mercy from ’94 – ’00.
Since the transition between ships is basically done, we have returned to going on Saturdays to the Centre for the Aged, Orphaned and Abandoned Orphanage. We usually have relay games as seen in the photo to wear them out a bit (at least I get worn out) before the Bible story, songs and crafts. Great being back!!!