First Surgery Performed on Pioneering Hospital Ship’s Historic Debut in Africa

SENEGAL, WEST AFRICA — Two Oxford consultants carried out the first ever surgery onboard the world’s first purpose-built charity hospital ship, the Global Mercy, in West Africa March 6th.

Rachel Buckingham and Andrew Wainwright, both consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeons at the Oxford University Hospitals Trust in England, are volunteering in Senegal for international charity Mercy Ships as part of their annual leave and ongoing training.

The charity operates hospital ships and other healthcare services for those who have very little access to safe medical care in sub-Saharan Africa, where 9 out of 10 people do not have access to safe surgery.

Medical Volunteer 1:

You have no idea guys, but… First patient!

Andrew Wainwright:

This is a moment we’ve looked forward to for many, many years. It’s absolutely wonderful that we have patients here.

Rachel Buckingham:

Senegal does not have any children’s orthopaedic surgeons. So most of these patients would never have the opportunity to have surgery. So it’s really significant for them.


So many people have worked so hard to get to this moment, to have the ship here in Senegal serving patients from both Senegal and The Gambia. We’re so grateful for everyone who contributes toward this. Our volunteer crew especially, their hearts are here, they’re ready to serve. It’s a really special time.

Medical Volunteer 2:

Good morning Global Mercy, this is Dr. Sarah, your Chief Medical Officer.

Would you please join me in a word of prayer?

Heavenly Father, we are finally here. What an incredible hospital ship you have given us.

We entrust our patients for today to you. We ask that you guide the hands and feet of the doctors and nurses who will take care of these beautiful humans today. We pray for successful surgeries and swift recoveries.


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,

Read more news on Medical Ministry and World Missions on Missions Box.

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