Fifalina’s Surgery Brings New Life in Madagascar

MADAGASCAR — A tiny nine-year-old struggled into the Mercy Ships admissions tent to have surgery. Her legs were so curved and out of shape that they seemed to be folded beneath her and could no longer hold her upright. This tiny nine-year-old was Fifalina.

Fifalina was born with normal legs, but as she grew and started to walk her mother, Ludvine, noticed that she fell often and that her legs were beginning to curve.

Then her family’s desperate hopes and Fifalina’s dream began to become reality. They heard of a hospital ship providing free surgery onboard the Africa Mercy docked in Madagascar.

This is Fifalina’s story of receiving this life-changing surgery.

Fifalina is a beautiful young girl who loves to run and play. But it wasn’t always that way.
Ludvine – Fifalina’s mother

LudvineFifalina’s mother:

“It started when she was two years old. She was learning to walk and she fell down. Her legs started to curve. She had normal legs at birth. She was still able to walk when she started school. But then she fell at school. And her knees could not support her walking to school.”

Fifalina’s family had no way to access the care she desperately needed. Mercy Ships volunteer surgeons performed complex surgeries to straighten Fifalina’s legs for free.

And this is the moment she saw her straightened legs for the first time following her surgery.

Her mother looks on overwhelmed with emotion at her daughter’s transformation.

Fifalina’s journey of surgery and rehabilitation was an intensive six month long process.

Eventually Luvdine and Fifalina returned home to their family. Fifalina can now walk to school opening up opportunities for a new life thanks to this physical transformation.

About Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on

CONTACT: Diane Rickard, Int’l Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships,

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