It is the night before her little boy’s surgery onboard the Africa Mercy and Elodie refuses to sleep. Exhausted, she keeps her hand on her son’s leg in case he wakes up-or does notâ€¦ anymore.
Mercy Ships night shifts nurses regularly leaned over Emmanoel’s bed. „He is in very good hands. You should try to get some sleep.“ Elodie nodded but kept her focus on her little boy, with obvious disinterest in sleep.
For the past 18 months, she and her husband Maurice had tried everything to help their son. They worried about his shallow and labored breathing that sounded like a perpetual asthma attack. At first, doctors said he „just had malaria.“
But his breathing worsened to the point that he passed out several times each day. In another hospital, doctors identified the culprit - a tumor growing from his palate. He needed an operation as soon as possible, because otherwise the tumor would slowly suffocate him. However, this was a surgery they could not do.
Maurice and Elodie were out of options and resources, and their son was almost out of time. His blackouts became so regular that Elodie no longer rushed him to the hospital. No one there could help him anyway.
Between sleepless nights at home, Maurice worked in Pointe Noire’s shipping port. On a hazy Friday, he saw an unusual ship pull in - one that was rumored to have a hospital onboard.
Maurice and Elodie counted down the days until the ship’s doctors would begin seeing patients. When that day came, Emmanoel and his parents waited among more than 7,300 people to be seen. Suddenly Emmanoel passed out and required the urgent attention of our Emergency Medical Team. However, this time he was in safe hands!
Emmanoel became one of our first patients in Congo. „I don’t know how he survived this long; I really don’t,“ said Dr. Mark Shrime, one of the surgeons who operated him.
Nevertheless, within three weeks, Emmanoel was a completely different child, smiling on the dock, cuddling in the arms of his doting parents. „I can’t wait to hear my son say „maman“,“ Elodie says, as her son had not yet learned to talk due to the tumor.
At the end of his recovery, to his mother’s great joy, he had already learned 3 words: „maman“, „oncle“ (uncle) and „demain“ (tomorrow). From that day forward, Maurice and Elodie have been able to sleep soundly again, because their child will live to see tomorrow.