Successful cleft lip/palate repair
Baby Odilon was left starving because a cleft lip and palate prevented him from feeding. Onboard the Africa Mercy, he received special care preparing him for corrective surgery. As the photos show, the operation was a resounding success.
Faithful to her son despite the opposition
When her aunt delivered the tiny bundle, it cried like a healthy baby should, but 19-year-old Edwige could tell by her aunt’s expression that something was wrong. When the newborn was placed in Edwige’s arms, she began to cry. „Is this the baby I gave birth to?“ she asked her aunt. The child, a boy, had a bilateral cleft lip and palate.
Despite her initial shock, Edwige’s motherly instincts took hold, and she accepted her son lovingly. She named him Odilon. For a few hours, an exhausted mother and her child slept peacefully. Then, just as quickly as Odilon had entered the world, their troubles began.
Edwige’s mother-in-law inspected young Odilon with revulsion. Because of his cleft, Odilon was called evil and inhuman. Edwige’s husband was told to leave her to avoid bringing shame upon the family.
Cared for onboard the Africa Mercy
When Odilon was taken by his mother on a long and arduous journey to the Africa Mercy he weighed a mere 2.5 kg. He was in such bad condition that the medical staff onboard the ship did not think he would survive for more than a few days. After nearly seven weeks of care and weighing 8.1 pounds (3.7 kg), however, Odilon was finally strong enough to undergo surgery.
The operation was successful. As Odilon lay quietly on his bed sleeping, he would suck on the new fleshy formation that was his upper lip. Because of Mercy Ships, he had undergone a miraculous transformation that had brought him back from the brink of starvation and given him a chance at a normal life.