South Yorkshire doctor’s African mercy mission

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A DOCTOR from South Yorkshire is taking part in a huge volunteer project in Africa, providing free operations to thousands of patients.

Alan Kershaw, an anaesthetist from Thurgoland, Barnsley, is volunteering on board the world’s largest hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, which is currently docked in Togo.

And Alan, who is taking part in the mission for the second time, has taken his son, Jack, along too.

The pair are among 450 volunteers from 40 different countries providing free medical care and humanitarian aid to the people of Togo.

Alan, who works at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is part of a team performing free surgeries such as tumour removal, cleft lip and palate correction, cataract removal, orthopaedics, skin grafts for burns victims and dental care.

He said: “I volunteered with Mercy Ships because they actually deliver humanitarian aid and health care in the developing world, and because I wanted to use my skills to help those less fortunate.

“The areas the ship visits have patients who have no other hope of treatment and this makes volunteering extremely worthwhile. I wanted my son Jack to experience it for himself.”

Jack said: “Dad came back last year with so many amazing stories about the patients that I was keen to volunteer and experience it for myself.

“Mercy Ships is an incredible organisation and everyone from the cooks to the cleaners to the doctors and nurses are all there for the same reason – to make a difference to people’s lives.”

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than £630 million, with more than 2.35 million direct beneficiaries.

Over the years the international charity has treated more than 520,000 people in village medical and dental clinics.

Its volunteers have performed more than 56,000 surgeries and completed more than 1,000 community development projects focusing on water and sanitation, education, infrastructure development and agriculture.