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Reunited: Nurse and Patients Become Co-Workers After 30 Years



Quick Smiles:

  • Full Circle: Catherine and Regina prepare to work on Mercy Ships, only to discover the very nurse who once saved their lives as a fellow volunteer!
  • Inspired Journey: The life-saving act by Aly inspires both mother and daughter to become nurses.
  • Strengthened Bonds: Decades later, the trio’s bond is as unbreakable as ever, with no plans of losing touch again.

A twist of fate brought Catherine Conteh, her daughter Regina, and a selfless nurse named Aly Hogarth-Hall together 30 years after their paths first crossed in Sierra Leone.

In a life-or-death situation, Catherine was struggling through a challenging labor. With the stakes high and lacking the funds for a Caesarean section, a young Aly, visiting from a nearby charity, became their saving grace.

Aly, then in her 20s, managed to secure the £70 (roughly $85 USD) needed for the vital surgery in 1993.

This act not only saved Catherine and baby Regina’s lives but forged a bond that time couldn’t break, even though they lost contact.

Fast forward a few decades, Catherine and Regina, gearing up to volunteer with Mercy Ships, were in for the surprise of their lives. Onboard the same ship, Aly, now 52, was also volunteering.

“To see Catherine again, it’s very surreal really,” Aly expressed, overwhelmed by the reunion. “It’s not something I ever expected until we made contact again, 18 months ago or so.”

The emotion was palpable. “We just sobbed. We cried and cried,” echoed Catherine.


Aly’s initial meeting with Catherine was at Mercy Ships itself, a place known for its free medical services to those most in need.

On that fateful day, Aly recalled a grim diagnosis, “The nurse told me that she would die, and the baby would die.”

But thanks to Aly and her colleague, British anaesthetist Dr. Keith Thomson, they covered the cost of Catherine’s surgery.

Despite the profound connection, Catherine and Aly lost touch when Aly moved back to New Zealand, and Catherine and Regina sought asylum in Australia.

Their lives, however, mirrored each other’s as both Catherine and Regina pursued nursing, a career inspired by Aly’s compassion.

While the mother-daughter duo resides in Perth, Catherine frequently revisits Sierra Leone, channeling her gratitude into service by even founding a school.


For the next month, all three women will be aboard the Mercy Ship, a testament to the enduring power of gratitude and connection.

This time around, they’re making sure they remain in each other’s lives, cementing a bond that fate clearly intended.