September 2019 Mother of Mercy Hospital Update

an update from the medical team at the only hospital in Sudan's war-torn Nuba Mountains

Posted by OBS Team on September 25th, 2019

In October 2016, Operation Broken Silence launched the Heart of Nuba Campaign alongside of the Take Heart Foundation. This online fundraising movement provides support to Mother of Mercy Hospital in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. This is an update on how your fundraising and giving is leading to real results at this special healthcare facility. 


People in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan have been living in emergency conditions since June of 2011, when the former Bashir regime launched another genocidal war against their communities. The regime banned all aid and media organizations from the Nuba Mountains in an attempt to cover up their war crimes and cause further harm to the Nuba people.

Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a military coup in April 2019. Sudan now has a fledgling transitional government that is seeking to move the country toward civilian, democratic rule. Sadly though, this new government has not yet lifted the humanitarian blockade on the Nuba Mountains, nor has a permanent peace been achieved. 

Right now, a fragile ceasefire is holding together in the Nuba Mountains. This year has seen reports of targeted government attacks in a few frontline areas, as well as some government warplanes flying overhead. While no actual aerial bombing has occurred, these bomber flights do disrupt daily life at farms, schools, and markets since people do not know if the area they are in is about to be targeted or not.

In the heart of the warzone sits Mother of Mercy Hospital, the only referral hospital in the region. This life-saving facility is led by American Dr. Tom Catena and an incredible local Nuba staff. They refuse to leave and do their best to save lives, sometimes treating over 400 patients a day. Access to basic medical supplies is extremely limited and the hospital is frequently short on funds. The team at Mother of Mercy Hospital depends entirely on private fundraising and donations to treat the wounded and train the staff.

Securing more funding for the hospital through our online fundraising campaign is one of our organization's top priorities. You can watch the campaign trailer for Mother of Mercy Hospital to see what this actually looks like on the ground:

Mother of Mercy Hospital Update

Beginning in 2016 with the launch of The Heart of Nuba Campaign, Operation Broken Silence began supporting the hospital. The campaign is in partnership with the Heart of Nuba documentary film and the Take Heart Foundation, which exist to support the incredible work being done at the hospital.

To date, 93 fundraisers and 15 fundraising teams have raised over $55,000 from 498 donors through their fundraising pages for the hospital! The funds you are raising through the campaign are sent to our partner the Take Heart Foundation, which exists to support Mother of Mercy Hospital. Great work!

Here is an update from Dr. Tom: 


Dear Friend, 

The Mother of Mercy Hospital is the sole referral hospital for the Nuba Mountains region, which is roughly the size of Austria. As a result of receiving referrals from such a large area, we often get very challenging cases presenting with late stage disease. In addition to the usual infectious tropical diseases, we have large numbers of cancer patients. 

In August, we admitted two children with very advanced Wilms’ tumors. Wilms’ tumor is a pediatric kidney cancer which is potentially curable if diagnosed early but difficult to cure when treatment is delayed. Both children were under two years of age with very large tumors. We did abdominal ultrasound scans, which in both cases showed a mass filling the entire abdomen and the absence of one of the kidneys. We then gave several cycles of chemotherapy, which markedly reduced the cancer size but still left baseball-sized tumors in the small children’s abdomens. The only chance for cure was to operate and attempt to remove the cancerous kidney. We opened the abdomen in both cases and found advanced tumor that was stuck to the liver and intestines. We carefully dissected the tumor off the vital organs and managed to remove the entire mass. leaving behind no gross trace of cancer. After the surgeries, both children did well, although one developed severe intestinal inflammation requiring intravenous fluids and nutritional support. 

I’m presenting these cases to highlight the capabilities of a mission hospital in one of the world’s most remote places. This level of care is only available in the capital Khartoum, which is still nearly impossible to access for our patients in the Nuba Mountains. Even if they could reach Khartoum, the cost of the treatment and surgery would be far beyond the means of the children’s families. For the treatment they received at Mother of Mercy Hospital, they will pay the equivalent of roughly $2. 

However, none of this is possible without a tremendous amount of support from our partners and friends. We have to buy the drugs and supplies in far off Nairobi, Kenya and overcome many logistical challenges before they reach our location. We need well-trained anesthetists and ward nurses to take care of these critically ill children. The doctor’s work is futile if there are no competent staff to assist. 

Thanks to our friends and supporters, we have the proper medicines and equipment and well-trained staff to treat such advanced diseases.   On behalf of these two children, I want to thank all of our friends for their continued support.


Dr. Tom was recently in Fresno, CA. He toured the Saroyan House Museum, and spoke about how a prize he received two years ago has helped to support the hospital's work in Sudan:

Our team here at Operation Broken Silence and our friends at Take Heart Foundation want to thank each of you for supporting the incredible work being done every day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Here are a few ways you can remain involved. 

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Mother of Mercy Hospital is the only medical facility for hundreds of thousands of people in the Nuba Mountains. Without this critical healthcare institution, people would have nowhere else to go. The hospital's impact is truly incredible despite the obstacles faced here. In 2017 alone, the hospital saw 42,000 outpatients, admitted 5,000 inpatients, and performed 1,800 surgeries.

Here are three effective ways you can help support the incredible team and work at Mother of Mercy Hospital:

1. Give Monthly. This is the easiest way to support the lifesaving work being done every day at Mother of Mercy Hospital. Signing up takes less than a minute, and you'll be effortlessly provide consistent support moving forwards. LEARN MORE »

2. Become a Fundraiser. You can start a personal fundraising page for Mother of Mercy Hospital and ask your friends and family to give towards your goal. This is the best way to support healthcare work in the Nuba Mountains and get your community involved at the same time. START FUNDRAISING »

3. Give. If you're not ready to make a monthly giving or fundraising commitment yet, making a one-time donation to the hospital is the perfect next step for you. GIVE HERE »

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