By: Ally Jones

I was working in an administrative role on board, working on plans for increasing access to our services for more people in Madagascar where the ship was docked, when a patient arrived unannounced at our gangway. On his face was the largest tumor our surgeons had ever seen and he was near death. After hearing about Mercy Ships and the hospital ship on the radio, Desperate for help, Sambany sold a rice field to pay for transportation and travelled for two days to reach the port. With the help of friends who carried him from his village to the main road, he was able to reach the ship in time.

Sambany was swept up immediately by our hospital team who assessed him, realizing that they needed to act quickly. After multiple scans, diagnostic tests, and a lot of questions, it was decided that the choice to perform the risky surgery should be made by Sambany himself. When he was presented the facts and risks of surgery, including the risk of death, Sambany responded: “I’m already a dead man.”

During the 14-hour long surgery, Sambany lost a lot of blood. Thankfully for him, the ship has a walking, talking blood bank! Our laboratory team were quickly mobilized to find any crew who had the same blood type who had registered to be a donor. I received a message on my pager asking me to go to the hospital immediately. I sat down, was prepped, and before I knew it my blood was flowing into a bag. That bag was taken straight to the operating room, as warm as when it came out.

In all, Sambany received 17 units of blood from 17 different crew members. Those crew members worked all over the ship in different positions and different roles. Sambany’s surgery was successful, thanks not only to the medical team who treated him and performed his surgery, but it couldn’t have been done without the wider community of the ship. I felt honored to be included in saving his life and sending him back to his village in good health. Months later, after his recovery, he managed to walk all the way back to his village unaided ready to live a new life, tumor free.

Mr Ally Jones ( ) will be at FIME 2022, where Mercy Ships will have a presence in the FIME Charity Zone. Attendance is free for The Florida International Medical Expo held at the Miami Beach Convention Center –July 27-29th 2022. Register for free at  Contact: for more information about Mercy and the exhibitors, speakers, conferences and events scheduled for FIME 2022.