Surgeon with Ebola arrives in US

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Published: Sunday 16th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone has arrived in the US for treatment at a biocontainment unit where two other people with the disease have been successfully treated.

Martin Salia, who was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday, landed at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, and was taken by ambulance to Nebraska Medical Centre.

The hospital said the medical crew that accompanied Dr Salia from west Africa determined he was stable enough to fly, but that the team caring for him in Sierra Leone indicated he was critically ill and “possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States”.

The disease has killed more than 5,000 people in west Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leona. Of the 10 people treated for the disease in the US, all but one have recovered.

Dr Salia’s ambulance to the hospital was accompanied by a Nebraska State Patrol cruiser and a fire department vehicle – a subdued arrival in contrast to the August delivery of 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 is 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, citing health ministry sources.

Salia, a 44-year-old Sierra Leone citizen who lives in Maryland, first showed Ebola symptoms on November 6 but tested negative for the virus. He eventually tested positive on 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.

His wife, Isatu Salia, said that when she spoke to her husband on Friday his voice sounded weak and shaky, but he told her “I love you” in a steady voice.

The two prayed together and their children, aged 12 and 20, are coping, she said, calling her husband “my everything”.

Nebraska Medical Centre spokesman Taylor Wilson said members of the 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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