A Life-Altering Surgery for Hassan

When a father passes away, a son struggles to remember as much about his dad as he can. Some of Hassan’s final memories of his father involved living with him while contracting the same condition that ultimately took his dad’s life: complications from an abdominal hernia.

Hassan’s father worked for years as a security guard in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and suddenly began to develop pains in his lower abdomen. After countless sleepless nights and several days without work, Hassan’s mother, Salematu, pleaded with her husband to seek a surgical remedy.

Hassan’s father began several consultations at a local hospital and was eventually cleared for surgery. After the hernia was successfully repaired, physicians implored him to rest for a minimum of six weeks.

During this time, just as he was entering his teenage years, young Hassan began to complain about similar extreme stomach pain.

An Agonizing Struggle

The family’s fears were later confirmed: Hassan had also developed a hernia, an issue that compounded a family under extreme duress while the head of the household was out of work, unable to provide while healing. Too young to operate on, the doctors requested Hassan grow a bit older before considering surgery.

Hassan’s father began giving his boy medicine for a problem he himself just had surgery for, while the family’s fears and agony continued to grow. A pregnant Salematu lost a baby during this period, Hassan began to miss school, and Hassan’s father was forced back to work to cover the growing costs to support his family.

Hassan’s father’s security belt tightened over his stomach where the hernia had been repaired. But the friction and movement in the sweltering heat caused the area to become infected, and he was he was immediately sent back to the hospital to receive a second surgery. Hassan’s father ultimately succumbed to a second invasive surgery as a result of his inability to fully recover – a working man to his death.

Healing on the Global Mercy®

While in utter chaos and grieving after having lost the staple of the household, Salematu’s sister contacted the family with hopeful news.

“My aunt called my mom and said Mercy Ships was coming to Freetown, and that they cured hernias and other sicknesses,” said Hassan.

Hassan registered for an appointment with the Mercy Ships medical crew the very next day. And before long, he was being picked up in a car, on his way to a life-changing surgery on the Global Mercy.

“When I arrived to the ship, I met Dr. Roy,” Hassan said, “He is a good person… He shook my hand and we spoke to each other. He told me what was going to happen, and he explained to me everything.”

Grateful but nervous, Hassan described the moments before his surgery began on board.

“The first thing they told me was not to be afraid or panic, and that I should relax. Then they gave me a bed and a warm blanket. The nurses gave me oxygen to breathe and after I breathed three or four times, I went to sleep… When I woke up, the surgery was completely over.”

Before he knew it, Hassan had healed enough to be sent home, where under doctor’s orders, he was careful not to lift anything heavy or overwork himself.

“Usually, I carry the water for the family, but my mother has been helping. Now I just take the small containers to be filled, and other people help me bring them home,” he said.

“I am saying a big thank you to Mercy Ships because I was struggling with this hernia, having sleepless nights, and it was affecting me so badly that I couldn’t sleep.”

Now Hassan is back home, growing stronger, attending school, and helping his family tend to the things that need to be done around their compound.

But while his surgery was successful and he was saved from his father’s demise, Hassan still finds it difficult to talk about his dad.

Becoming the Head of the Household

During a family visit, Hassan was visibly strong and showed little emotion at mention of his father. He was committed to remaining strong in the face of such immense loss.

His mother and sister, while so thankful that Hassan was spared, still grieve from their recent loss.

Hassan has reportedly left school to learn new trades that will earn himself and his family some income in the absence of his father.

“I want to learn electrical technology,” he said. “I will support my sister and my mother.”