Leah the lab rat

Lab technician Leah Weiler had been looking for years for a way to do some kind of humanitarian work in her holidays, but most short term opportunities have no places for a medical laboratory technician. Fortunately she then stumbled across Mercy Ships and when she found out that the hospital ship Africa Mercy has a state of the art medical lab operating in the heart of Africa she was hooked.Lab

In modern medicine accurate and timely diagnostic results are very important to enable doctors to provide the very best medical care for patients, and a lot of these services are just not available in developing nations. Some of the necessary diagnostic and analytical samples are actually taken on board and then digitalised and transmitted via satellite to specialists thousands of kilometres away in developed nations, who then send the results, sometimes within minutes, also via satellite.

Other tests are run totally on board in the state-of-the-art laboratory made possible by the generosity of many of the companies that manufacture the highly specialised diagnostic equipment and supplies used to run the tests. This provides the surgeons, anaesthesiologists and other doctors with vital information they need to make better choices about how to treat patients. They also make the surgery much safer.


Leah loved her time on board and for her one of the highlights was being able to run the analytical tests on a very special patient named Sambany who had the largest facial tumour (7.46kg) every removed on board.
If you missed Sambany’s story you can read it here.
Leah remembers clearly that Sambany was very anaemic with a haemoglobin level of 3.8 which is less than one quarter of the normal level. That knowledge meant that Sambany could be treated before the surgery to raise his haemoglobin level and make the removal of his enormous tumour much safer.