Our surgical delivery model was built on efficiency, volunteers, and hope. In the regions of the world where resources are scarce and the need for surgical care is great, state-of-the-art hospital ships are the most efficient way to provide safe surgery. But how can affordable surgical care be provided in countries where many live on less than $1 a day? Volunteers!

The volunteer model is what allows us to offset costs that would normally fall on the patient – by staffing our hospital ships with volunteers, we can provide free, safe surgical care to those that need it most. With clean water, reliable electricity, and monitored care centers, our volunteer operating room team safely provide surgical procedures that help the blind see, help the lame walk, and help the disfigured find relief and recovery.

This is where lives are changed forever. This is the Operating Room.


An Inside Look: The Mercy Ships Operating Room Team

There are several teams within the Operating Room department that work together to ensure patient care and safety:


Each part of the Operating Room department is vital in the transformative journey of a Mercy Ships patient. The Biomedical team configures and maintains our medical equipment, while the Sterile Processing team decontaminates, washes and sterilizes it. The Anesthesia team, Operating Room nurses and surgeons, and PACU team work together to provide each patient with the highest quality of surgical intervention and recovery. From a patient’s first step into the OR in search of healing, to the moment they can depart with hope in their bodies and spirits, the Mercy Ships Operating Team serves in extraordinary ways every day to make our mission possible.


The Mercy Ships Operating Room: A Volunteer’s Perspective:

Sarah Kwok, Anesthesia Supervisor

“Everyone works together and we have a shared, common goal, which is that we want to bring hope and healing to the people of West Africa. That’s ultimately what we’re all there for, and it’s a joy to be around. We’re making a difference and seeing lives transformed, and we’re really fortunate to be here.”


Emmanuel Essah (BEN), Biomedical Technician

“As a Biomedical Technician, when you serve with Mercy Ships, you will get to be part of the transformation that is happening in the patients’ lives by making sure the equipment used on them is safe and working properly. I see it is as such a joy and privilege to be able to contribute my time and talents to such a worthy cause.


Dr. Payam Afzali, Maxillofacial Surgeon

“There’s no better way to use your skills, talent, and all the training you’ve had than to save a life, give someone hope, and witness the impact. Most of these patients have curable conditions… Giving the gift of healing is just incredible. I would encourage all of my colleagues to come at least one time. This experience has exceeded my high expectations, but you can’t really embrace the feeling until you experience it personally.”


Missy Brown, OR Nurse / Operating Room Manager

“Getting a chance to serve in my profession as an Operating Room (OR) nurse and leader brings such reward. I get to see miracles of healing happening every day, where sight is restored, tumors are removed, and legs become straight. I can’t think of another hospital/OR department where this happens in the west — and I get to do it with an international team all the time!”


Frank Seibure (SLE), OR Sterile Processing Tech

“My nearly ten years of service with Mercy Ships means a lot to me. I’m passionate about serving humanity, so being part of an institution that is helping to change lives is very fulfilling… Any hospital setting where quality sterile processing is guaranteed is one where you will find quality healthcare.”


Bree Young, PACU Nurse

“When we landed in Conakry [Guinea] and drove from the airport to the port, I could see there were thousands of people living in poverty. The volume of people surprised me and every day there were more [people in need] coming to the ship. It [is] amazing being able to make a difference in the lives of people that need care. Great opportunity!”

The lives of so many patients have been changed over decades of Mercy Ships service in Africa, thanks to the exceptional professional care and service provided by our Operating Room volunteers – volunteers like Sarah and Emmanuel, Payam and Missy, Frank, Bree, and so many others. The mission of Mercy Ships wouldn’t be possible without you – thank you!

To learn more about volunteering with Mercy Ships on the OR Team or elsewhere, please visit opportunities.mercyships.org to find your place onboard or start an application. If you have specific questions about volunteering, please email us at volunteer@mercyships.org.

Together, we can bring hope and healing!