Aissata, a 7-month-old child, traveled with her mother nearly 200 miles to receive the surgery on the hospital ship the Africa Mercy, which has provided free surgeries to more than 2,100 people in Guinea since arriving in August.

Their family is among the world’s estimated 5 billion people who do not have access to safe, affordable, timely surgery. In sub-Saharan Africa specifically, 93% of the population can’t get the surgery they need.

Mercy Ships addresses this global surgery crisis within Africa by sending hospital ships staffed by volunteers to the places where surgeons are needed most.

These surgeons also train local medical professionals who will stay in their home countries, effecting change long after Mercy Ships departs.

Providing healing for others is the reason we become medical professionals in the first place. The need for surgical care is universal. With Mercy Ships, I’m able to provide the same healing we would in America to patients like Aissata who otherwise would never receive the care they deserve,

...said Dr. Phil Freeman, a maxillofacial surgeon from Texas, one of nearly 400 volunteers currently serving onboard the hospital ship.

In the developed world, the debilitating cleft lip typically is treated in infancy. But in places with limited access to surgery, many children simply cannot get treatment. The condition can lead to malnutrition if infants are unable to nurse, and it can lead to social exclusion or stigmatization as the children grow older.

Our surgical program changes the entire course of our patients’ lives. And by forming partnerships with African nations, together we are building a powerful legacy of hope and healing that’s contributing to the overall development of West and Central Africa,

...said Donovan Palmer, CEO of Mercy Ships.