Dr. Aloïse Sagna has been a surgeon for 25 years, having trained both in his home country of Senegal as well as in France. He currently works as a pediatric surgeon and professor of pediatric surgery in Dakar.

It’s a job he’s always known he wanted to pursue, having dreamed of working in pediatrics when he was young. 

“The thing I like most is helping a person,” he said. “Making a person recover…, especially children.”

A Chance to Learn

Though Dr. Aloïse has decades of experience as a surgeon, he’s always on the lookout to learn something new. That’s why, when he had an opportunity to visit Montreal Children’s Hospital in Canada, he said yes without hesitation.

“It was an opportunity to learn new skills,” he said. “The latest (medical techniques) to help my department here in Senegal.”

When he arrived in Canada, he met Dr. Sherif Emil, the director of pediatric surgery at Montreal Children’s Hospital. Dr. Sherif also serves as a volunteer consultant in general pediatric surgery for Mercy Ships.

The two doctors worked side by side for six months in Montreal, learning from one another and developing a friendship. Several months later, Dr. Sherif reciprocated the visit, traveling to Dr. Aloïse’s hospital in Dakar.

Dr. Sherif gave lectures and performed surgeries during his time there, introducing Dr. Aloïse’s colleagues to some new techniques, working with over 20 surgeons and trainees.

Sharing More Than Skills

Through their collaboration, Dr. Aloïse and Dr. Sherif have both gained new insight. They have shared not only medical knowledge but also their commitment to their patients which keeps them working to better themselves.

During his time with Dr. Sherif, Dr. Aloïse learned a new type of operation called a “pull-through” surgery. He also became more adept at neonatal surgery and picked up skills in laparoscopic surgery.

Dr. Sherif learned from Dr. Aloïse, too.

“Visiting him in his hospital was a way to grow our partnership,” he said. “From him, I learned how one can still continue to teach and provide the best patient care possible even with the setting of stretched resources. He was truly the anchor of his pediatric surgery service, and his commitment to trainees and patients is exemplary.”

‘My Big Hope’

What started as a visit turned into a longstanding friendship between the two doctors. When Dr. Aloïse needed materials to treat an infant pathology in Senegal, Dr. Sherif gathered the supplies from colleagues in the United States.

Now, Dr. Aloïse has a new dream for Senegal. “My big hope is to be able to treat children from Africa at the same level as in Canada,” he said. “That is my dream.”

And he is working hard to make that dream come true.

Partnerships like these are vital to strengthening healthcare systems around the world. Knowledge-sharing partnerships like these are helping to strengthen healthcare systems across Africa. Learn more about the work Mercy Ships is doing to build medical capacity and invest in local surgical leaders.

You can join in bringing hope and healing to those who need it most. Visit mercyships.org/get-involved to see how.