Surgery Ship Patient Baby Michel

This is just one of the many lucky patients to be treated on Africa Mercy, a floating hospital run by Mercy Ships giving aid to poverty stricken cities in Africa.

Meet Michel Adebayo, a one-year-old boy that had a large tumour in his mouth and was struggling to breathe. He was sent straight to palliative care because the tumour has grown so quickly in such a short period. 

The Screening 

Baby Michel was first screened by nurse Nate Claus on Aug. 25, 2016 at Don Bosco in the outside screening line on the basketball court. Visibly and audibly struggling to breathe, he looked very unwell and caught the attention of the screening team.

It was reported that this particular day was a hard day for the whole screening team. The line outside was enormous and very rowdy. Nate had told NatGeo in an interview earlier that day that he was considering shutting down the screening for that day because it was too chaotic. Everyone was exhausted and nerves were frayed.

When Nate first saw (and heard) Michel struggling to breathe, you can see the despair on Nate’s face. When the mother tells him that the tumour started growing from birth, Nate assumed it must be malignant and aggressive. He makes the difficult decision to say 'no' and not send Michel through screening. Instead, he radios for chaplaincy and palliative care.

This child is not going to live for long, is what he's thinking. (NatGeo later learns from Nate that this boy reminds him of another patient from a few years earlier with a very similar presentation. They operated but the tumour was, in fact, malignant and the boy died.) It's a really tragic and moving moment on a very difficult day for Nate and the team.

Pre-Operation and Home Visit 

After a palliative care home visit, Yfke Dumbaya and Christina Van der Zande decided to bring them in for surgical screening and the medical staff decided to pull together the best team to do the surgery.

With the help of Mercy Ships little Michel's life has been changed forever.

Tune into The Surgery Ship Tuesdays 7.30pm AEST on Nat Geo People

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