What would your life look like if you didn’t have use of your arms? Worse yet, what if those arms would not lower below shoulder level? For a 17-year-old boy in Guinea, this was his reality every day.
Life Before Plastic Surgery
In his interview with the Daily Mirror, Mamadou explained that his elbows were bent in while his wrists were bent in a downward position. This caused him to not be able to straighten his arms out. He went on to say that he “learned to cope.”
Though the cause for his condition is unknown, access to medical and surgical services for Mamadou’s family was out of the question. They could not afford to help him. Sadly, he earned the nickname “Devil Hands” from the neighborhood children and was teased relentlessly.
Eventually at the age of 15, his parents sent him 300 miles away to beg on the streets for money from strangers because he was unable to work in his town or help the family out with everyday expenses.
Hope Floated Ashore
For Mamadou, the charity organization Mercy Ships provided the answer to his years of suffering. Their ship, “The Africa Mercy,” docked at the shore and offered free medical services to the people of Conakry.
Bravely, the young man went to the ship by himself and asked for help. He told the Daily Mirror that he told the nurse he could “do so much more than people thought.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. Tertius Venter, one of the volunteer doctors for Mercy Ships, was able to examine Mamadou and concluded that he would be able to lower both arms and fix his left arm and hand. He also received a transplanted finger from the right hand to serve as a thumb on his left hand.
Mamadou is off the streets as a beggar and now works at his uncle’s market in the city’s capital. He calls the people from Mercy Ships his “guardian angels.”
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