Dr. Aloïse Sagna has decades of experience as a surgeon. Still, he always wants to learn something new.

“I could spend all day trying to do better for the patients,” he said. That’s why in 2019, when he had an opportunity to visit Montreal Children’s Hospital in Canada, he said yes without hesitation.

“It was to learn new skills,” he said. “The latest things to help my department here in Senegal.”

Dr. Aloïse is a pediatric surgeon at Albert Royer National Children’s Hospital in Dakar. He also serves as a professor of pediatric surgery at Cheikh Anta Diop University.

He’s been a surgeon for 25 years, training both in Senegal and in Dijon, France. He has worked in plastic, aesthetic, and general surgery. And ever since he was young, he has known he wanted to work in pediatrics.

“The thing I like most is helping a person,” he said. “Making a person recover… especially the children.”

Dr. Aloïse already has 15 years of experience as a children’s surgeon. But he knew at Montreal Children’s Hospital, he’d learn more of the latest techniques.

When he arrived in Canada, he met Dr. Sherif Emil, the director of pediatric surgery at Montreal Children’s Hospital. Dr. Sherif also serves as a volunteer consultant in general pediatric surgery for Mercy Ships.

“He’s a good doctor,” Dr. Aloïse said of the man who became his colleague. “He’s a good teacher. And he’s also a kind person.”

The two doctors worked side by side for six months in Montreal, learning from one another and developing a friendship. Several months later, Dr. Sherif reciprocated the visit, traveling to Albert Royer in Dakar.

Dr. Sherif gave lectures and performed surgeries, showing Dr. Aloïse’s colleagues some new techniques over his two-week visit. All in all, he worked with about two dozen surgeons and other trainees.

Dr. Aloise Sagna at the Children National Hospital Albert Royer (CHNEAR).

Sharing More Than Skills

Through their collaboration, Dr. Aloïse and Dr. Sherif have each gained new insight. They have shared not only medical knowledge, but also the passion for their work, and the love for their patients that keeps them working to better themselves.

During his time with Dr. Sherif, Dr. Aloïse learned a new type of operation called a pull-through surgery. He also became more adept at neonatal surgery, and picked up skills in laparoscopic surgery.

Dr. Sherif learned from Dr. Aloïse, too.

“Visiting him in his hospital was a way to grow our partnership,” he said. “From him, I learned how one can still continue to teach and provide the best patient care possible even in the setting of stretched resources. He was truly the anchor of his pediatric surgery service, and his commitment to trainees and patients was exemplary.”

‘My Big Hope’

What started as a visit turned into a longstanding friendship between the two doctors. When Dr. Aloïse needed materials to treat an infant pathology in Senegal, Dr. Sherif gathered the supplies from colleagues in the U.S.

Now, Dr. Aloïse has a new dream for Senegal. “My big hope is to be able to treat children from Africa at the same level as in Canada,” he said. “That is my dream.”

And he is working hard to make that dream come true.

Knowledge-sharing partnerships like these are helping to strengthen healthcare systems across Africa. Learn more about the work Mercy Ships is doing to build medical capacity and invest in local surgical leaders.

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