A New Vision: How Dr Patricia brought sight to thousands in Cameroon

A New Vision: How Dr Patricia brought sight to thousands in Cameroon

When Dr Patricia Eyoup Sen first stepped onboard the Africa Mercy, she had never participated in surgery before.

Today she is a leading ophthalmic surgeon who helps thousands of patients every year in her home country of Cameroon.

This is her story – and one of many Mercy Ships success realities – that demonstrate how investing in one person can empower an entire nation.

Young and hopeful

It was 2017 when a young and hopeful Dr Patricia joined a Mercy Ships ophthalmic mentoring programme. She had spent years studying ophthalmology with hopes of turning her surgical dreams into a reality but had never been given the opportunity. That was about to change.

During her three months onboard, Dr Patricia participated in more than 300 surgeries. She was the lead surgeon in over half of these, which gave her vital experience to carry forward long after the ship sailed away.

Dr Glenn Strauss, then the leading volunteer ophthalmic surgeon onboard, praised her for her surgical aptitude.

He said, “Patricia was one of those young surgeons who had great talent but needed someone to invest in her. The Mercy Ships eye team provided her with a supportive, encouraging environment to find and develop her gifting as a surgeon.”

Dr Patricia said, “My experience with the Mercy Ships training program was wonderful. I learned a lot, especially regarding cataract surgery.”

But this was just the beginning for this resilient and courageous young surgeon.

Applying Her Training in an Under-Resourced Hospital

After her training onboard the Africa Mercy, Dr Patricia decided to bring her new skills to an eye clinic in a remote regional hospital in northern Cameroon. The hospital had been lacking ophthalmic specialists for almost 20 years.

With the help of Mercy Ships capacity building staff, Dr Patricia was able to help train nurses in the area, several of them returned to work in her clinic.

Through the medical capacity building programme, Mercy Ships works with government officials and community medical professionals to strengthen healthcare infrastructure in Africa.

Once the clinic was up and running thanks to equipment donations, Dr Patricia led the way forward in providing care for patients with ophthalmic needs.

She spent more than two years performing cataract surgeries during a free surgery campaign, as well as caring for patients with glaucoma and inflammation. Mercy Ships has continued to support the clinic with operating theatre equipment and microscopes.

Dr Patricia Returns to the Africa Mercy

Less than a year after Dr Patricia’s mentoring, she decided to return to the Africa Mercy. This time, she came onboard as a volunteer surgeon. During her two weeks onboard during the field service in Guinea, she performed cataract surgeries for 85 patients — which, at the heart of it, is the reason she got into this field in the first place.

“I came back to serve with Mercy Ships in Guinea because I wanted to improve my practice, and I wanted to serve people who need help for blindness,” she said. “I feel blessed to be able to give sight to people. It’s a great opportunity to help people, and I’m very thankful.”

Treating Thousands of Patients Each Year

Dr Patricia has since returned to the port city of Douala, Cameroon, where she works with patients suffering from medical eye pathologies and provides referrals for the surgeries they desperately need. She offers life-changing care to more than 2,000 patients each year.

“Thanks to the surgical technique I learned from Dr Glenn, I was able to improve the quality of life for the people I operated on,” said Dr Patricia.

“The lasting impact of Mercy Ships goes far beyond me. All the doctors and nurses that have been trained can go on to help the whole country,” she added.

Over the decades, Mercy Ships has been introduced to countless talented medical professionals who bring hope and healing to their communities and the world, of which Dr Patricia is just one.

With your continued support– just imagine what a difference Mercy Ships can make.