In 1998 fifteen year old Paul from the Republic of Congo was running down the road with his grandmother on his back to get away from the rebels who had invaded his village, when he heard a loud bang in the distance, felt a sharp pain, and passed out.
One month later Paul woke up in Mbandza Nduaja Hospital. He doesn’t even know how he got there but he does know he is lucky to be alive. His poor grandmother who he was desperately trying to save did not make it!
But the shrapnel from the rocket that hit them both took the middle of Pauls’ face including his nose clean off! His cheek bones had caved in and it was like he had a black hole in the middle of his face. For 16 years most people would either run away from him or ridicule him because of his aspect.
Thankfully he met a lovely lady by the name of Sylvanee who saw past the shape of his face and into his heart of gold. They were married and had 2 sons and 2 daughters. But life is not easy for anyone in such a desperately needy nation like the Republic of Congo and the shape of Paul’s face made it very hard for him to get work and provide for his growing family.
One day in early 2014 he was visiting relatives in the port city of Pointe-Noire when they told him about a hospital ship that was providing free surgeries. He attended a screening and was given a date for surgery. Repairing Paul’s face was quite a reconstruction job requiring a series of operations as the surgeons had to lift a “U” shaped section of skin from his forehead, leaving one end attached and using the other end to construct a new nose to be placed in the middle of his newly reconstructed face.
A skin graft from his leg was used to cover the open area on his forehead but the “U” shaped flap was left connected to both his forehead and nose for 21 days to ensure a health blood supply to both. Once the new nose had a healthy blood supply flowing from the point where it was connected to his face the flap was disconnected and returned to his forehead.
Paul was over the moon when he saw the results! “I have a wife who has always loved me” said Paul “After 16 years of being ridiculed for looking different from everyone else I can enjoy a normal life with my wife and 4 children!” Thanks to our volunteer crew and people like you who give to support the work of Mercy Ships, Paul now has a whole new lease on life.