In 1978, a team led by Don and Deyon Stephens began the process of finding a suitable vessel to fulfil their dream of a hospital ship that would reach out to the world's poorest people.
On July 7th 1978, this dream became a reality. The first Mercy Ship, a retired ocean liner called Victoria, was purchased for £600,000. Don and Deyon began recruiting crew for the ship and raising funds to bring the Mercy Ship into compliance with international standards.
Ongoing efforts over four years resulted in the transformation of the passenger vessel into a hospital ship. With the addition of 3 operating theatres and a 40 bed ward, the vessel became an 11,701 tonne floating hospital, carrying a volunteer crew of 350 from all over the world. In 1982, the vessel sailed as the newly christened Anastasis –- the first Mercy Ship.
Since then, various ships in the Mercy Ships fleet have served in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world, bringing lasting change to hundreds of thousands of lives. Mercy Ships provides free surgery and medical care, and partners with local communities to improve health care, offering training and advice, materials and hands-on assistance.
Mercy Ships has provided services in developing nations valued at more than £537 million, including the following:
- Performed more than 47,000 life-changing operations such as cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repair.
- Treated over 422,000 patients in village clinics with more than 456,000 medical procedures performed.
- Treated over 95,000 dental patients with more than 228,000 dental procedures performed.
- Trained over 15,300 local health care professionals who have in turn trained many others.
- Taught 125,800 local people in basic health care.
- Completed over 1,085 community development projects focusing on water and sanitation, education, infrastructure development and agriculture.
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