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A dream the refused to quit... In 1964, 19-year-old Don Stephens was visiting the Bahamas as part of a youth group when Hurricane Cleo swept through the region, in what was a one-in-a-hundred year storm. Don’s youth group took shelter in an aircraft hangar, but others were not so fortunate with Cleo claiming lives and destroying hundreds of homes. In the aftermath of the storm, he was struck by the words of suffering local people who pleaded for a hospital ship to treat their injured and provide urgently needed medicines. “The hearing of it challenged me,’’ said Don.

More than 70% of the world’s population cannot access essential surgery. For many, the hospital ship Africa Mercy is their last hope. On board, a crew of world class medical volunteers from Australia and across the globe face the biggest challenges of their lives, working to provide life-saving surgery to those with nowhere else to turn.

Watch Episode 1 online in full here: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/people/watch-the-surgery-ship-first-episode-here-online.aspx

Jocelin suffered from a rapidly growing tumour on his face that caused him to hide in shame. Local doctors offered to try to help but at an enormous cost that the family could never afford. So Jocelin’s father, Jean Paul, began praying for a miracle. Soon they heard about Mercy Ships and how Jocelin could be helped - for free.

Rajo was born with a club foot, making it difficult to walk. His dad, Tojo, wanted to help his son but the cost was far beyond what he could ever afford. Then he heard his son could receive a free surgery on board a floating hospital ship. See how your support helped make this miracle happen.

Five-month-old Paulinah experienced a life-changing surgery she will never remember, but her mother will never forget. Florentine took a courageous journey on foot, by canoe, and by car to bring Paulinah to Mercy Ships, where paediatric surgeon Dr. Sherif Emil removed the largest teratoma he had ever seen on a baby. “When you save a child you don’t just save a life, you save a lifetime," Dr. Emil says.