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AS Mercy Ships commemorates its 40-year legacy, the organisation has marked another major milestone: the 100,000th free surgical procedure provided to a patient.

Currently docked for a 10-month stay in Guinea, west Africa, these free surgical procedures are performed on board the world’s largest independent hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

“We’re excited to reach this significant milestone and honoured to be a part of transforming so many lives,” founder Don Stephens said.

The 100,000th surgical procedure was a cleft lip correction performed by Australian plastic surgeon David Chong for seven-month-old Aissata on board the Africa Mercy.

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Mr Chong is the current president of the Australasian Cleft Lip and Palate Association and volunteers with Mercy Ships twice a year.

“Being part of this milestone is humbling, especially when you think about the incredible legacy that Mercy Ships has built over the past 40 years by healing thousands of patients like Aissata,” he said.

“So many other volunteers have helped change lives for the better, and I’m proud to contribute to this powerful work.”

An estimated 5bn people do not have access to safe, affordable, timely surgery, and 93% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mercy Ships addresses this global surgery crisis by using hospital ships staffed by volunteers in places where surgeons are needed most.

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

After Mercy Ships completes its fourth visit to Guinea in early June, the Africa Mercy will sail for Senegal in August.

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