A four-year-old Senegalese boy has had his life transformed after undergoing surgery carried out by an Oxford-based surgeon on board a charitable hospital ship.

Amadou was struggling to walk or move due to his rickets, a condition that made each step he took agonizingly painful.

His carer, Mariatou, said watching his condition was heart breaking.

Oxford Mail: Amadou and his carer MariatouAmadou and his carer Mariatou (Image: Mercy Ships)

After learning of Mercy Ships – a charity that runs the two largest civilian hospital ships in the world – Amadou was introduced to British orthopaedic consultant Dr Rachel Buckingham.

She assessed Amadou, detected his rickets and promptly operated on him to straighten his leg.

Oxford Mail: Dr Rachel BuckinghamDr Rachel Buckingham (Image: Mercy Ships)

A surgeon at an NHS hospital in Oxford and a Mercy Ships volunteer, Dr Buckingham said: "Amadou’s left leg was very weak – it curved outwards and his knee bent at an uncomfortable angle."

She identified his condition as rickets, usually associated with malnutrition and an insufficient supply of Vitamin D.

Oxford Mail: Amadou was treated for ricketsAmadou was treated for rickets (Image: Mercy Ships)

She also mentioned that such conditions are almost non-existent in the UK as children are treated before the severity escalates drastically.

West Africa suffers from a substantial lack of specialised surgeons.

Dr Buckingham added: “After surgery I saw him smile as he looked down to see his now straight leg healing in a plaster cast.

"It took him time to learn to walk again, but once he did, nothing could stop him.

"Now he can run, play and go to school with his friends."

Oxford Mail: Amadou was the first patient on board the Global MercyAmadou was the first patient on board the Global Mercy (Image: Mercy Ships)

For impoverished regions in sub-Saharan Africa like Senegal, Mercy Ships provides a lifeline.

As the largest provider of charitable hospital ships in the world, it offers free, high-quality surgical care to those in genuine necessity.

Oxford Mail: Amadou and his carer MariatouAmadou and his carer Mariatou (Image: Mercy Ships)

Dr Buckingham made her maiden journey with a Mercy Ship in 2019, driven by her lineage of service, particularly her grandmother, who became a doctor a century ago when some UK universities denied qualifying women as doctors.

Dr Buckingham said: "My grandmother was a doctor and a trailblazer.

"In the 1920s she went off as an unmarried woman to India.

Oxford Mail: Amadou and Dr BuckinghamAmadou and Dr Buckingham (Image: Mercy Ships)

"It was she, who was my inspiration.

"Hearing what she did, including her work with leprosy patients, made me decide, aged 10, that I wanted to study medicine.

"And I did not want to do anything else from then on."

Dr Buckingham also contributes to training and mentoring new surgical specialists aboard the hospital vessels.

On Easter Sunday, Dr Buckingham is set to talk about her stint with a Mercy Ship on BBC Radio 4 at 7.50am and 9.25pm.

At the same time, Mercy Ships is urging donors to help fund children's surgeries.