So this is Paul. He was a teenager during the war. One day there was shooting in his area. He ran with his grandmother on his back to escape the bullets. Unfortunately his grandmother didn’t escape or survive. She was shot dead. Paul was also caught in the cross fire and a bullet took his nose clean off. When he arrived at Mercy Ships he hid behind a lot of fabric and a plethora of headscarfs to cover his face. Paul has beautiful kind eyes. I don’t have a picture of his face before the operation. Firstly Paul wouldn’t want that shared and secondly it was pretty upsetting. He had a large cavity where a nose should be and his whole face was sunken due to the lack of structure. Paul had a pretty special series of operations developed here on this ship in the Congo. It involves bringing a U-shaped skin flap down from the temporal area on the side of the head. This skin is fashioned into a nose and attached to the cavity. Then a skin graft is taken from the thigh to replace the open area on the scalp. The skin flap stays in place for 21 days… It doesn’t look so pleasant during that time but Paul would say it was worth it. Then the flap is released and put back to cover the rest of the open scalp area.
Hopefully these pictures will make it clearer.
Paul has now gone home and occasionally wears just one scarf to keep the sun off of his newly healed skin. He is now full of smiles and hugs. He couldn’t wait to see his wife and children and show them his new face. For my mate Paul this means he will be able to get a job and provide for his family. I went to say goodbye last week and was greeted with the biggest hug from one very happy man. It certainly isn’t perfect and looks a little odd but it’s a massive improvement and now Paul can function, he is no longer scared to walk down the street. His scars will also look better over time.
For everyone who supports Mercy Ships through one way or another… thank you. Paul looked at me that day before I left, deep into my eyes and he said thank you with the most sincerity I have ever know. I wanted to thank everyone that allowed this man to walk freely. Everyone that allowed me and other nurses to look after him, you have changed his life and with tears in his eyes he wanted to shout that from the roof tops. He wanted to say thank you to everyone that was a part of his journey but he is a farmer from a village with nothing to his name so he was only able to thank me. Today I want to shout from the roof tops on his behalf in the only way I know how. Social media.
Thank you for changing this mans life!