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St. David’s South Austin Medical Center nurse Leesa Sims used two months of her vacation this holiday season aboard the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest private hospital ship.

Sims, a nurse for 35 years, has volunteered for other mission trips – including several to Haiti – but sat on a volunteer waitlist for a year in order to obtain a spot on this two-month trip with Mercy Ships. More than 400 volunteers from 40 nations participate in the Africa Mercy effort, where they perform free, life-changing surgeries. The ship is docked off the coast of Cameroon, in Africa, where an estimated 85 percent of children in high poverty areas will need treatment for birth defects or other conditions before the age of 15.

“The transformations I see here daily are truly humbling,” Sims said in a recent interview from aboard the ship. “One day a patient has a tumor on their face and the next they feel confident going back out in the world.”

KXAN interviewed Sims about her volunteer work while she was docked at port in Cameroon.

Photo courtesy of ©Mercy Ships, credit Saul Loubassa

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