A teenager born with a condition which meant her knee was bent backwards can now walk to school with her friends – after life-changing surgery.
Marie Madeleine, 13, developed an unusual disability as a young child, which meant her knee bent the wrong way.
As she grew the problem worsened, forcing her to limp to school each day – while often struggling to keep up with her pals.
Her family started to worry how the condition would hold Marie back in life – and prayed for a “miracle” so she could be like every other schoolgirl.
Now, the teenager is walking with pride – after a hospital ship docked off the coast of her home country, Senegal, giving her the chance to receive life-changing surgery.
Marie said: “We love God. God has healed me, and His plan for me is to walk like this now.”
Marie’s knee problem was caused by an abnormally tight muscle contracture in her leg, which caused her knee to hyperextend backwards.
The painful condition left her with a severe limp – meaning she often struggled to keep up with friends on the way to class.
Although she remained positive and was determined to learn each day, Marie’s grandmother Adama worried that the disability would ultimately hold her back.
She said: “My hope was for her to be like every other girl with a backpack going to school.
“But we couldn’t afford surgery, so we just waited for a miracle.”
So, when a neighbour told them Mercy Ships, a charity running hospital ships, would be sending their boat Africa Mercy to a port just 100 miles away, they were delighted.
Her surgery was quickly scheduled and was a success – leaving Marie excited to begin her “new life”.
She needed hours of intense rehabilitation on board the ship to help her get back on her feet again, as her knee muscles had not been used properly for 12 years.
But Marie was motivated by the thought of being able to walk to the classroom once more.
Several months on from her surgery, Marie had strong, straight legs – and was ready to leave the ship and walk back to school.
Classmates asked her, ‘how come your leg changed?’ – and she told them: “God has healed me.”
Grandmother Adama said: “I am so happy to see her going to school with straight legs. Everything is okay now!”