New Mercy Ship in the works, thanks to $20 million donation

(KYTX) - East Texas charity Mercy Ships is using an enormous donation for a big project.

Mercy Ships has provided medical care to patients in numerous African countries for 35 years now. The organization's current hospital ship, called the Africa Mercy, launched in 2007. It's the one you saw on 60 Minutes back in February. CBS News' Scott Pelley introduced the ship as "The Hospital of Hope."

Just four months later, even more hopes and wishes became reality, when a couple in California donated $20 million to Mercy Ships.  

"It's a miracle that somebody who doesn't really know you whose heart aligns with the cause does their homework and makes a commitment of that magnitude. That doesn't happen every day!" says Mercy ships Managing Director Peter Schulze.

He says the generous donors are Susan and Bill Gross.  Bill Gross owns world renowned investment firm, PIMCO.

"Bill Gross is the godfather of fixed income trading," Schulze says.

 His $20 million donation to Mercy Ships is now the second of it's size. Before 60 Minutes even aired the Mercy Ships segment, an East Texas family close with the organization gave the charity $20 million.

That combined $40 million will go toward building a brand new ship, even bigger than the Africa Mercy.

"A second ship more than doubles service," Schulze says.

This new ship will be able to service about 20 to 30 percent more patients than the current ship.

"Each surgery changes a life, changes a family, it could change a community," Schulze says.

He credits much of that change to East Texans, who make up a big portion of the organization's donors and volunteers.

"East Texas is an integral part of Mercy Ships and is reaching out and changing the world!"

That giving is clearly infectious as Mercy Ships celebrates the generosity of strangers, who are truly helping saving lives and better our world.

The new ship doesn't have a price tag yet, but it will cost more than the Africa Mercy, which cost $75 million.  The goal is to launch the new ship within the next 5 years. 

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