Doctor ‘critically ill’ with Ebola


Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone was in an extremely critical condition at a Nebraska hospital, his doctors said.

Dr Martin Salia, who was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday, arrived in Omaha on Saturday to be treated at the Nebraska Medical Centre’s biocontainment unit that has successfully treated two other Ebola patients in recent months.

Dr Salia is “extremely ill,” said Dr Phil Smith, who is helping oversee his treatment. The 44-year-old might be more ill than the first Ebola patients successfully treated in the United States, according to the hospital.

“This is an hour-by-hour situation,” Dr Smith said, adding that a team of specialists is treating Dr Salia’s most serious issues. “We will do everything humanly possible to help him fight this disease.”

Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leona. Of the 10 people treated for the virus in the US, all but one has recovered.

After Dr Salia arrived in Omaha, his ambulance to the hospital was accompanied by a single Nebraska State Patrol cruiser and a fire department vehicle – a subdued arrival in contrast to the August delivery of Dr Rick Sacra, whose ambulance was flanked by numerous police cars, motorcycles and fire vehicles.

Dr Salia has been working as a general surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. It’s not clear whether he was involved in the care of Ebola patients. Kissy is not an Ebola treatment unit, but Dr Salia worked in at least three other facilities, United Methodist News said.

Dr Salia, a Sierra Leone citizen who lives in Maryland, first showed Ebola symptoms on November 6 but tested negative for the virus. He eventually tested positive last Monday.

The US State Department said it helped facilitate the transfer of Dr Salia; the US Embassy in Freetown said he paid for the expensive evacuation. The travel costs and care of other Ebola patients flown to the US have been covered by the groups they worked for in West Africa.

Dr Salia’s wife, Isatu Salia, said in a telephone interview that when she spoke to her husband early on Friday his voice sounded weak and shaky. But he told her “I love you” in a steady voice, she said.

The two prayed together, and their children, aged 12 and 20, are coping, she said.

Nebraska Medical Centre spokesman Taylor Wilson said members of Dr Salia’s family were not at the hospital, but were expected to arrive “in the near future.”

Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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