About

Out on the ocean, a ship of doctors and nurses is traveling to the poorest of the poor living in West Africa. It carries life saving medical services for people who have none: children who suffer with terrible leg deformities, women outcast from their communities by birthing fistulas, vast tumors of all shapes and sizes which afflict the unlucky. With no medical help, sufferers must survive the best they can - unless the ship is in port. 

The ship docks in a different country every year and people come from all corners of the globe. It is the last hope for so many – and if they miss the boat, there is no other chance. 

On arrival, a flood of patients pours into the port, but in this medical lottery not everyone can win. For the lucky ones, doctors will carry out lifesaving operations on unbelievable cases. Many of these ills do not exist outside of West Africa and have never been seen before by these doctors. 

Nonetheless, the volunteer medics must make on the spot life and death decisions. Some are too far-gone to treat, others not deemed severe enough - and the worst group are the patients in the middle, where the treatment may bring uncertain outcome, but no treatment means certain death. A confronting, complex journey for the volunteer doctors and nurses, it will be a case of life and death for many of the patients.

By the end it is not just the patients who are transformed. The young nurses and doctors will be challenged to the limits of their training and abilities. NERIDA is a young and idealistic yet inexperienced surgeon who will face a patient who cannot be fully cured. NEIL is mature doctor who has left his steady practise to go to one of the most out of control countries on earth.  DAN will form an unexpectedly deep connection with a young child, whom he must leave at the end of the year in Guinea. Told through their eyes we follow the dramatic and confronting events as they unfold on the Surgery Ship.

Watch The Surgery Ship, Tuesday, 10 December at 8.30pm on SBS ONE
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