Our Nurse of the Week is Stephanie Uddo, a 27-year-old New Orleans nurse who was molded by Hurricane Katrina to help those less fortunate than her. After the devastating hurricane struck Louisiana when she was just 15 years old, Uddo watched her parents pitch in to help thousands of people stranded by the storm, inspiring her to make a career out of helping others.
In October, Uddo joined the Africa Mercy, helping deliver hope and medical care to thousands in Africa. The Africa Mercy is a 500 foot long ship, carrying 450 workers, nearly 200 of which are medical professionals. Uddo joined the Africa Mercy in Cameroon on the western side of Africa sandwiched between Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Uddo tells TheAdvocate.com, “After being a nurse in New Orleans for four years, I began to do what’s called travel nursing, fulfilling three-month contracts across the US, in places like Denver and Los Angeles. The I heard about Mercy ships and signed up immediately.”
The Africa Mercy has helped tens of thousands of people in the poorest countries in the world who live with facial deformities, crippling orthopedic problems, and untreated complications of birth. Their staff is made up of volunteers who pay $400 per month for the privilege, and most are American. Some volunteer for months and some have traveled with the Africa Mercy for decades.
The ship’s international chief medical officer and former navy cardiologist, Dr. Peter Linz, tells TheAdvocate.com, “In the US, life expectancy is 79 or 80. In Sierra Leone, for example, it’s 46. We can greatly improve this statistic by bringing medical and surgical services to these countries, and most importantly by mentoring each country’s own medical professionals.”
Uddo learned at a young age that helping others is the most important thing you can do with your life and she hopes to continue making a career out of doing so. To learn more about Stephanie Uddo and her career as a volunteer travel nurse, visit here.